If you were like me as a kid at Awanas or VBS, as soon as the Bible verse memory challenge happened, you were skimming God’s word to find the shortest bible verse to be able to memorize quickly. Of course, many of you know the shortest verse is John 11:35 saying, “Jesus wept.”
In the context of this verse, Jesus was in the city of Bethany where Mary & Martha were weeping over the death of their brother, Lazarus. However, something really stood out of me about this verse. When Jesus returned to the news that Lazarus was dead and had been in the tomb for 4 days, he was told by both Mary & Martha at different times that if he were there, he wouldn’t have died. Of course, this isn’t theologically accurate because the reality is that just Jesus was around didn’t mean death, pain, or adversity didn’t exist. In fact, that’s where he spent a lot of his time were places filled with those circumstances.
Now He does have the ability to remove those things and heal people, but He moves in his own way with different people. The thing that stood out to me is that Jesus didn’t focus on correcting their theology, he sat in their pain with them and chose to weep. The reality of the situation was that Jesus knew that he would die and that he would raise Lazarus from the dead shortly after, but chose to empathize and feel Mary and Martha’s pain with them.
What is powerful about this story is that Jesus cried even though He knew Lazarus was dead before He got the news. He cried even though He knew that Lazarus would be alive in just a few moments. He cried even though He knew death would not be here forever and even though He knew eternity and the Kingdom better than anyone else ever could. Jesus wept because this world is full of pain, regret, loss, depression, and devastation. He wept because knowing the end of the story doesn’t mean you can’t cry at the sad parts.
Being compassionate and empathetic with people is not about being right or correcting emotions. It’s about entering in a burdensome place with people and choosing to bear it with them to help them through it.