Growing up I attended a private, Christian, school that had been started by the church my family attended. It was a lot like most other schools I guess, except for it being really small and we literally had things like “Bible Class” as part of our curriculum (Pro-tip: if you ever take a bible class and need to make a guess on a test, always go with Jesus). One of the things that I remember having to do during my time at this school was to memorize bible verses. I can’t even begin to remember how many times I tried to use John 11:35 as my verse. Do you know it? Well if you wanted to memorize a whole bible verse today you can because this one is only 2 words! Jesus wept.
Obviously it took me zero time to memorize this verse. What has taken time though is understanding, and trying to live it out. This is the shortest verse in the bible yet it has massive implications for our lives right now.
In John 11 we are told of the time that Jesus went to go raise his friend Lazarus (Mary and Martha’s brother) from the dead. In the story Jesus makes sure that Lazarus is good and dead, by waiting 4 days, before even going to the town. This delay was intentional and helped demonstrate the power and authority of Jesus.
But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (ESV)
So, Jesus finally makes his way to Bethany (where Lazarus is now buried) in verse 17. It’s here that he meets Mary, and Martha, and many from their Jewish community. They are understandably distraught. What a scene Jesus finds himself in, talking with this group of grieving humans. Mary and Martha feeling additional pain knowing that if only Jesus had been there sooner then all of this could have been so easily avoided. It’s here that Jesus weeps.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. (ESV)
But why did he weep? After all, he knew that he was just about to raise Lazarus from the dead (vs. 43). Why would he be sad, deeply moved, if he knew what great miracle he was about to do? Jesus didn’t weep for Lazarus, he wept for those grieving. It’s because God cares about us. Jesus cared about the deep pain and grief that his friends were experiencing. He had authentic empathy for them. He was sad that they were sad.
Jesus still does this with us now. Whatever emotions you find coming to the surface in your life right now, Jesus is there with you. He knows how it feels and he is here for you! But there are greater implications for us to think about than our own needs being met.
Jesus wants us to follow him in this practice of empathy! Our founder led the way in showing us how to actually care about the people around us. Imagine again the all powerful creator of everything, who can control nature, and has authority over even death…being moved to tears by the sorrow of his friends. This is the kind of community building love that we should work to have for each other in Chi Alpha. It may not be a natural thing for you to do this, but Jesus showed us how important of a thing it is by practicing it. What is a new way that you can show a friend that you care about what they are going through?
Jesus, help us to love the way you showed us to. Help us to really care for the people that we have in our lives. Give us creative ideas on what we can do next. May we as XA be a community that practices this with each other because that’s what you showed us to do. Amen.