Lent 2011 - The Jesus Interruption
Each week of this season, we will be entering into the experience of an individual whose life was interrupted by an encounter with Jesus. This week - Lazarus, Martha, and Mary (John 11)
Why does Jesus cry?
When he heard of Lazarus's illness, he delayed two days before leaving where he was. He intends for this delay to reveal God's glory in a way that, apparently, would not be possible if he had left immediately. This is to be a divine sign of power through which witnesses will experience God's presence in a way they never have before.
And this makes Jesus sad?
He knows that Lazarus will rise, doesn't he? Why the groaning? Why the distress?
Some will say that it reveals his humanity. That it shows his raising Lazarus was an act of human compassion. After all, there were more folks than just Lazarus who had died that day, and he didn't raise them. The thinking is that it was his special relationship with Martha, Mary, and their brother Lazarus that compelled Jesus to raise him, pressed his compassion button.
And yet that interpretation puts this story at odds with some others that John tells. I believe John is trying to reveal something about Jesus's divinity, not his humanity. He is trying to get people to belive that Jesus is "the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing, you may have life in his name" (20:31).
Could it be that John was trying to reveal something about Jesus's divine character rather than his humanness? Could it be that John was allowing us to see the Son of God cry so that we would know that God has compassion for the human situation? Could it be that John is addressing our theodicy question in this tale of death, grief, and then rebirth?
Could it be an encouraging thought to know that even God cries sometimes?