Psalm of Praise: Psalms 48:1-2
Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. Beautiful in its height is Mount Zion, the joy of the whole earth, the city of the Great King.
Bible Reading: John 11:28, 32-36
Martha went and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you."
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said,
"Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
"Where have you laid him?" he asked.
"Come and see, Lord," they replied.
Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
When I am visiting a bereaved family to arrange a funeral it is not unusual for someone to apologise for crying, ‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t’ they say. Actually you should. The same happens at a funeral if someone is chokes up when they are giving the eulogy or reading a poem. It’s OK to cry. Jesus did!
The death of a loved one is an emotional time, and tears are a God-given expression of the loss of someone we have loved. They can also be an expression of our sharing in someone else’s grief, as was the case of the friends and neighbours who were with Mary when Lazarus died.
Tears are good. If anyone understood the reality of death and the promise of resurrection it was Jesus. And yet he wept. He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled when he met Mary and he wept when he saw Lazarus’ body. Jesus wasn’t an advocate of the ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality, nor of the ‘grown men don’t cry’ brigade.
When we grieve, Jesus shares our griefs and our sorrows, even when they go on, as they often do, for months and for years. But he also holds before us the hope of resurrection.
There are many different instances in the gospels where Jesus shows compassion, and I don’t think his tears are limited only to the death of a loved one. I think Jesus also weeps at the grief of those who suffer abuse and sickness, those who are affected by natural disasters, war and persecution.
When Lazarus died, Jesus wept with Mary and Martha, but he also did something. In this case he raised Lazarus from the dead. True compassion will also do something for the hurting. It may be a phone call, a visit or a baked cake. It may be a helping hand with something or a lift in a car. It may be a donation to a charity. Christian compassion will also pray to the God of compassion.
Is there someone today you know who is hurting, or a situation around the world that causes you to weep? How might you show compassion?
Beauty for brokenness, hope for despair,
Lord, in your suffering world, this is our prayer.
Beauty for brokenness