7 August 2017John 11:28-37
“Jesus began to weep.” (v. 35)
Psalm: Psalm 51
Jesus has just met Martha and has been given the sad news that Lazarus is dead (verse 32). At other times, Martha and her sister Mary both reacted differently in Jesus' presence - when he visited their home (Luke 10:38-42) and when Mary anointed Jesus (John 12:1-8). On this occasion, though, both sisters agree on one thing: If Jesus had got here earlier, their brother Lazarus would not have died (John 11:21, 32). The people who have come along to sympathise seem to believe that too - but they express it in a more accusatory way (verse 37).
We can hear similar accusations thrown at God all the time. Writing this in the wake of multiple terror attacks and the horrendous loss of life and people's livelihoods in the Grenfell Tower fire in west London, many of us are hearing it yet again: if God is so powerful and loves us so much, why do horrible things keep happening? If these two sisters who could count Jesus as a personal friend could think that way, how much more could people centuries later who never had the privilege of meeting Jesus in person?
In the Message version, it says that as Jesus saw Mary weep for her brother, "a deep anger welled up within him". Anger is something that gets a bad rap these days - and justifiably so, because much of the anger we see expressed is either misdirected or misused. But anger isn't for attacking someone whose driving you don't like, or for reducing shop staff to tears because that new printer you bought doesn't work; it's for motivating you to challenge injustice or anything else that causes people misery, and ultimately to do something to change it.
- To what extent is it easier to have faith in someone's abilities when they are present? Why?
- Why do you think Jesus wept?