Mary knows that the world brings death even upon the one through whom it was created in the first place. I think that’s a good lesson for us—especially now. As everyone is trying to deal with life as it is now, we could be facing a future that looks radically different from the past—even within the Christian church itself.
I think that this time of physical distance between us and the ones we care about might be an opportunity—a time of honest reflection. How do I normally interact with those around me? How might I better endure for the sake of those around me? Not just to feel good about ourselves or to do the right thing, but all inspired and captivated by the unending love that Jesus has for us. In his enduring he forgives us for when we fall short and promises us mercy and grace in his kingdom.
As Jesus stands there with Martha and Mary—with all those other people who have followed Martha and Mary to Jesus in their mourning—even as he himself mourns, Jesus has his mind on something greater than anything that they could have expected. And he tells Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” Martha, you’re going to see something that you never thought was possible.
God wants to be in a good relationship with the whole world. And that sounds really nice at first, and it might seem obvious because God is merciful, but that means that God has mercy even on those with whom we’ve had to bear. God has mercy on those who have hurt us—all who repent.
At that moment, John writes, “Jesus wept.” Jesus wept. Jesus sees the people in their sorrow. Jesus sees Martha and Mary, and something inside of him changes. He’s shaken to the core, and he just can’t take it. On the way to the tomb, knowing fully well what he is about to do, surrounded by so many mourning the death of Lazarus, crushed by what has happened, Jesus finally just loses it.
They believed God. They believed that they were evil, and that judgment was coming. They knew that God was serious, and they mourned Jonah’s message. What a surprise of a reaction from this mighty city. Whereas Jonah took it for granted, the Ninevites—along with the sailors from the previous chapter—took the word of God seriously. Isn’t this how it often happens?
The love that Jesus has for Lazarus, the love that Jesus has for Martha and Mary, which will become increasingly more evident as the story unfolds—this selfless, unending, unconquerable love—is something so valuable that Jesus will risk his own life for it. Later in the story, he will give his own life for it—that God might be glorified.
This is our sobering reality. Is this world evil? Yes. Is there evil within our own hearts? Yes. Does God forgive us for what we’ve done wrong? Yes. But it doesn’t magically make all of our circumstances right again.
Jonah wasn’t just fleeing the presence of the Lord in Israel, by going to Tarshish—to the other side of the known world. Jonah is fleeing from the presence of his creator by running as fast as he can into the place of un-creation. But, the Lord is God even over the sea, and he forces Jonah to face the chaos head on.
When Jesus cried out in agony, this time he got no confirmatory voice from the sky. Instead, it was the Roman soldier overseeing his crucifixion—his murder—that confessed who he really was.
Jesus fulfilled the Law, so just look to him. When our focus is on Jesus, when we listen to him and trust in him, we don’t need to worry about ourselves—our righteousness, our salvation—because he’s taken care of everything for us. Instead we can live for those around us. We can show them Christ. We’re free to be the light; we’re free to be the salt.
Jonah tells them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” Jonah finally acknowledges the fate that he deserves for running from God and putting all of these people in danger—the consequences of his actions. But now it’s the sailors who don’t listen. The text says, “Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them.”