“Jesus wept.” John 11:35. AMP The shortest bible verse in the scriptures. I’ve repeated this scripture facetiously when drama, the absurd and the incredulous happens in my day-to-day.
“Ms. Rhonda, I forgot to enter my time and I didn’t get paid.” Jesus wept.
“Mom, I forgot my key again and I’m locked out.” Jesus wept.
A third politician within the same legislative body is convicted of “misusing” his office. Jesus wept.
In short, I’m saying: “That’s too bad.” “That’s unfortunate … and unfortunately not my problem.” “That’s what you get.” You get my point. When said in the presence of others, my Jesus Wept response typically elicits reflex laughter. Other than my obvious need of deliverance from the “spirit of sarcasm”, my use of the verse is totally incongruent with the context of the scripture.
In John 11, we read that Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha and dear friend to Jesus, has died. To make matters worse, the sisters had sent word of their brother’s sickness to Jesus. And in their estimation, Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ death. But instead, He did nothing.
When Mary came [to the place] where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:32 AMP
Three verses later, Jesus is crying. This bible story is familiar to many Christians. It’s often referenced to describe Jesus’s compassion and love for hurting people. But that doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, Jesus is compassionate and is love itself. But I don’t believe He cried because Lazarus, whom He loved, died. Jesus delayed His arrival on purpose. He knew Lazarus was going to die. This was to be a teachable moment for the Disciples and a God-sign for all. Nor was it empathy for Mary and Martha’s sorrow. He knew He was about to perform the miracle of miracles. So what caused Jesus to become emotionally unraveled?
When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit [to the point of anger at the sorrow caused by death] and was troubled,… John 11:33 AMP, emphasis added.
Ah, did you catch that? Jesus was angry, not sad. Not grief stricken. Jesus wasn’t weepy because His boy Laz died before He could get there. He didn’t cry because He disappointed Mary and Martha. Jesus was angry—at the sorrow—caused by the death.
Have you ever cried angry tears?
The Savior cried angry tears because of the spirit of hopelessness that persisted in His midst. He cried angry tears because their grief and natural reasoning hijacked their spiritual understanding and experiences. He cried angry tears because they knew Him, but they didn’t know Him. Jesus cried hot, angry tears because He so desperately wants us to know that He is the resurrection. He is life and there is no death in Him. He was angry at the sorrow that suggested that death was bigger than God.
For the last two months, I’ve donned my Mary-Martha fan club t-shirt. I’d become weary in well-doing, so to speak. Weary in my waiting for His promises. Frustrated by preachers and prophets telling me why my prayers haven’t been answered. My walk was becoming an exercise of religious activity. With my mouth I said, “Glory be to God.” With my heart I said, “If you had been here…”
Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise [from the dead].” Martha replied, “I know that he will rise [from the dead] in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies; and everyone who lives and believes in Me [as Savior] will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed and continue to believe that You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of God, He who was [destined and promised] to come into the world [and it is for You that the world has waited]. John 11:23-27 AMP
Like Martha, I believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One (verse 27). So, I tried to make biblical sense of my disappointment. And when that didn’t work, I simply swallowed it. I sat in church and worshiped without expectation- too afraid to faith-up again. I read the Word without seeking understanding- too afraid to be wrong again. I prayed guarded prayers- too afraid to believe again. And Jesus wept, again.
Martha didn’t answer Jesus’ question. He didn’t ask her if she believed that He was the Messiah. He asked her if she believed He was the Resurrection. And that’s what He’s asking you and me today and every day.
“I didn’t ask you if you believed that I’M the Messiah. I asked you if you believed that I am the Resurrection; if you believed that I am the life. Do you believe that I’m bigger than the death of a loved one? Do you believe that I am bigger than the death of your marriage? Bigger than that court decision? Bigger than that cancer? Bigger than that “perceived” lost opportunity? Do you believe in ME, not as just the Messiah, but the One in whom there is no death!?”
I had no answer, and then I wept. But just this week, in the spirit that defines His character, Holy Spirit gave me a much needed reminder of His love for me. A very public reminder, in which He had a visiting prophet to call me by name out of a crowd of thousands. I am humbled by His overt, public display of affection. And slightly embarrassed by my frail response to recent life events.
Jeremiah 29:11 reminds me that God is the One with the plan for my life, for my future. He didn’t ask me for my plan. Nor is He going to put His plan on the back burner just because I prayed, fasted, sowed, and entered into agreement with two or more Believers. I can’t control Him; that would make me god.
The message for all of us is two-fold but simple:
We can save ourselves from unnecessary frustrations and disappointment if we follow His leading, instead of trying to get Him to follow us, to co-sign our insanity, or give us everything on our Christmas wish list. I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least two prayers I’m glad that the Father didn’t “move” on.
Understanding that He is indeed Life is a result of a nurtured relationship. A relationship in which we seek His face and not just His hand; His presence, not just His promises. We can’t be fickle in our faith when things don’t happen as we prayed and planned. To do so is to give ground to the enemy of our soul. And that makes Jesus cry hot, angry tears.