I haven’t been blogging for the last couple weeks because on June 6 my laptop crashed. This has resulted in me securing an updated laptop but it also resulted in quite a bit of disruption of my normal routine over the last couple of weeks. My old laptop had three things that were critical to my pastoral ministry which had to be replaced or integrated into the newer laptop. Those three things are my Logos Bible software, my Dragon dictation software and my connection to our dropbox, where my sermon notes and blogs find their way to be copied and posted. Because I had my Dragon and Logos on my home computer I did most of my studying from my home office but I was not connected to the dropbox from my home office. I am thankful for an upgrade on my computer but I had to work to get some bugs out of the system and that postponed some of the other things that I try to get done on a regular basis (including my blog). These things were really only minor inconveniences, but they did slow up my work production. But what happens in our lives when there is a major disruption in our lives because of something catastrophic event?
I have been preaching on Sunday nights on the resurrection account in John 11 of Jesus raising His friend Lazarus from the dead. Interestingly in the passage when Jesus hears that Lazarus is sick he waits two more days before rushing to the aid of Lazarus. Had Jesus left immediately when he received word that Lazarus was sick, Lazarus would have been dead only 2 days, instead of 4 days, but he still would have been dead. So it’s interesting to consider why Jesus may have waited before coming to Mary and Martha’s assistance. Mary and Martha had hoped that Jesus would have come in time to heal their brother. But even if Jesus had come immediately Lazarus would’ve still been for dead two days. But in Jewish thought they always considered the possibility of a resurrection up until the third day, after the third day they did not consider a resurrection possible. This is some of the background to the words that Jesus shares with Martha when Jesus appears before her. It also helps us understand Martha’s words to Jesus in verse 39 when she says, “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days”. Martha had earlier stated in verse 27 a very strong confession of faith in Jesus when she said – “Yes, Lord”, she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world”. This is an extraordinarily bold and courageous statement and confession of her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In calling Jesus “the Christ who was to come” she is declaring her belief that Jesus is the fulfillment of the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. This statement could have gotten her excommunicated from local worship because the religious leaders who had declared that anyone who trusted in Christ would be excommunicated. But when we get to the tomb her conduct seems to contradict her statement. She’s already acknowledged her belief in the resurrection of the dead but she’s thinking very much in a faraway future sense. But Jesus had earlier stated that anyone who believes in Him would not die. Now we know that He means that statement in the spiritual sense but on this case He also means it in a physical sense as well as this current moment in time.
What really amazes me in the passage is the deep emotions that Jesus demonstrates in the face of sorrow and sadness He is confronted with on this occasion. Looking at several passages beginning in verse 33 we read- “when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in the spirit and troubled”. In verse 35 we read- “Jesus wept”. Finally in verse 38a- “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb”. The words “deeply moved” in verse 33 and verse 37 describe an overwhelming sense of sorrow and indignation. Jesus experiences a deep disturbance at the core of His being because of His conflict with sin, death and Satan. I believe the weight of His own impending death for the sins of humanity are beginning to weigh on the Lord Jesus Christ at this point. There must’ve been a great deal of ambivalence in His feeling even knowing that Lazarus was in a far better place but that Jesus planned to raise him from the dead. That was his plan all along so that God would be glorified in this death experience (John 11:4). The fact that Jesus weep is deeply instructive to us. His tears demonstrate that crying is not a sign of weakness or failure in some emotional sense, deep feelings are not a thing to be ashamed of. “Jesus weep” means that He would shed tears of deep sorrow. His tears are a sign of the reality of our Lord’s humanity. It’s very good to know that we have a high priest who can sympathize and empathize with us in our own sadness and sorrow. When we go through tragedies and loss to know that there is a God in heaven who is there for us. In fact the writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us of what it means to have a high priest who can sympathize with our burdens. We read, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of trouble”, (Heb.4:14-16 NASB). So what are we to do when we experience catastrophic losses in our lives? We are to bring our burdens to the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that his grace is adequate to sustain us and to direct our paths. Sometimes in the midst of our losses we miss the fact that Jesus is the present help in time of need. He is the one who desires to enter into our lives to meet us at our deepest point of need. And no, we’re not going to experience what Mary and Martha experienced in having received their brother back from the dead but when we have painful life experiences we can call on the Lord Jesus Christ who can sympathize and empathize with every pain that we are experiencing. We serve a great Savior who’s grace is abundant and His mercies are new every morning, let us never forget of His excellent love and care for us.
Pastor Rich Sivo