"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground."
~ Psalm 143:8, 10
Recently a friend of mine and I were talking about the death of Lazarus and how Jesus wept at the tomb prior to raising Lazarus from the dead. For decades I have listened to, and participated in, discussions of why it was that Jesus was crying. I remember listening to the preacher, Fred Craddick, talk about this very subject during a sermon. He shared that Jesus weeps in many ways.
I remember him describing an AIDS ward at a hospital, and the words, "Jesus wept," being embroidered into the pillow cases of those who were dying. He gave the example of an addict, laying in an alley, sticking a dirty needle into his arm, just so that he might feel something other than despair, and "Jesus weeps." He spoke of the aged woman in a care home, shut away from the world and her family, in the darkness, "Jesus weeps."
And then my friend shared this thought. "Suppose Jesus knows that he is calling Lazarus away from the paradise of heaven, where there is no more pain. No more struggles. No more death. Perhaps THAT is why Jesus is weeping?"
It suddenly had a greater impact in my understanding of the text. "Of course!" I said.
Jesus is moved by his knowledge of heaven, and that of our earthly existence. In the Divine womb of God we are created for an eternal existence through Jesus. Through Jesus's weeping, we are reminded that God is not distant.
I always remind others that when John declared that the "Kingdom of God is at hand," he wasn't talking about a time to come. It is present, all around us. Often we are so busy that we do not recognize it's presence. Jesus weeps, and we long for "something."
Jesus was present in that moment, allowing for his pain to be seen, and for his love to be known. He was vulnerable, and willing to bring Lazarus back, just to provide an everlasting lesson of how our pain can also move God to exist with us.
I am grateful for the loving grace of God that enters into our pain, who weeps with us, laughs with us, and wants to experience every moment with us.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.