As I continue to dig deeper into this passage, I continue to find new insights into what was really going on in this chaotic scene. Funerals, during Jesus’ time, were a tradition of mourning that involved the whole community. Crowds would form at the home of the deceased family member. Many people would be inside grieving with the family. Then the crowd would proceed to the burial site by traveling through the streets of the city. This was a way for the community to grieve along with the family. This is a custom that is still practiced in many Middle Eastern countries today. When Jesus arrives on the scene, Lazarus had already been in the grave for 4 days. The crowd was still there. People were still grieving 4 days after his death which helps to illustrate what an important role that Lazarus played in the community of Bethany. He no doubt was the main wage earner for the family. Now his sisters were left to take care of each other. In midst of all this grief and loss, John records the shortest verse in the entire Bible. “Jesus wept”. Even though this verse is short, I believe it is the most powerful verse in all of Scripture. John wanted his readers to see that Jesus was not only Divine but fully man. Jesus’ tears illustrate how much he cared for Lazarus. It was also a foreshadowing of his own death. In less than one months time, Jesus himself would be put in a tomb. Jesus is called a “Man of Sorrows” In Isaiah 53:3, we read “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” This should be of great comfort for us. We not only have a savior, but a savior that is acquainted with our grief and struggles. John wants us to get the full picture of what he began his Gospel with that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. Jesus can identify with us.
The history of the incarnation plays a vital role in helping us understand who Jesus is. It helps us see that Jesus is more than just a Person to call on in times of trouble. He is God in the flesh. He is a Person who understands us. We truly can say Jesus “gets me.” He knows my thoughts, needs and dreams. He is not just a problem solver. When we understand the incarnation, then we can see the power of the cross revealed. We see a God who came in the flesh to show us how to live, how to die to our sins and how to be raised to walk in His righteousness. The incarnation transcends cultural boundaries. People want to be understood. They are looking for a place to belong. They want someone to understand them and identify with their struggles. We can help them see the incarnate Christ is that Person. If we become an extension of Christ’s life, we can impact our families, community, and world in a mighty way. By investing our lives of our neighbors, just as Christ invested in the disciples, we will see much change.
In John 1, we see “Jesus dwelt among us.” He became a part of the culture. He was one of us. We must have the same mindset. Paul encourages us in Philippians 2:5-11 to have the same attitude as Christ, which means we must live out the gospel before the people with whom we have been entrusted. The Holy Spirit allows us to be the incarnate representative of Christ on earth. We will have the same spirit and mind of Christ if we tap into the power and guidance the Holy Spirit offers.
As you prepare for Sunday, I have a few questions for you to consider:
1. What things in your life cause you to weep?
2. Hos does Jesus being a “Man of Sorrows” impact the way you connect with God?
3. Do you weep for things that Jesus weeps for?