In today’s study, Selwyn asks the question: ‘is Jesus able to sympathise with us when we experience grief?’
He uses John 11:17-44, to illustrate the fact that Jesus experienced the full range of emotions – just as we do!
I like the New Living Translation, in the way it expresses Scripture in our language, for example – these verses John: 11:32-44.
‘ … When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,”Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” ‘
In these verses, we witness Jesus experiencing two emotions. The first emotion is anger – why? This event occurs close to the end of Jesus’ ministry, His close friends would have seen Him heal people and perform many amazing miracles – He had told them that they would see God’s glory – if they believed. Yet, Mary’s first words to Him are, ‘if you were here, this would not have happened’; and, some people in the crowd were also saying – ‘if He could heal a blind man – why didn’t he cure Lazarus (before he died)’.
The second emotion is grief – the overwhelming sadness (and hopelessness) He sees and feels, in His very close, weeping friends, Mary and Martha. I think, His grief is all the greater because He knows that the people there, don’t recognise His ability to provide hope for everyone. Although, He has demonstrated His power on many occasions – they still don’t fully realise, ‘who He is!’
The main point I found in Selwyn’s study, was this: “You see, no matter how positive and optimistic our outlook may be, we must never deny what we are feeling at the moment. We need not be dragged down by our feelings into a whirlpool of despair, but we must be willing to face and feel those emotions.”
We face these emotions by taking them to Jesus – telling Him how we feel – asking Him to lighten our burden – and, He will raise your dying hopes – restored, back into the full joy – you have, in knowing Him.