Before the crucifixion, the people hadn’t seen the glory of God yet. Even after seeing the miraculous signs of Jesus, they hadn’t yet seen him give up his life for the world out of love. They hadn’t seen him defeat death itself. Isaiah stood in the throne room of God, a vision of heaven itself, and he was tantalized by it.
These are all too common responses—postures—when we as humans find ourselves in hard situations. We see it all around us today. The outright villains and the false heroes—designations which are increasingly relative these days. The hero of one is the villain of another.
Jesus, the true light, is counterintuitive to the darkness of this world. Which is so hard for us, isn’t it? When the world is saying one thing and God is saying another, it’s so hard for us to walk away from the darkness even when we know it’s wrong, even when we know it goes against Jesus. Even though Jesus is our beacon—our salvation—we’re constantly drawn to the world’s lies. The only way to fight the darkness is to focus our eyes on the light.
We can trust Jesus in difficult times. We can trust him in times that we doubt ourselves—in times that we make our own share of mistakes. We can trust him even as we come to him as sinners, who don’t deserve his love. We can trust him in times of change—times of uncertainty. We can trust him as we live in exile—dispersed—even in our own land. And when we need someone to be there. When we are all alone and nobody will come near, Jesus is there. Jesus can’t be quarantined. The 6-foot rule doesn’t apply to him. Jesus is there. He’s not going anywhere.
When Jesus invites us to join him, it’s with the promise that he will see us through it. The crowds proclaimed Hosanna, save us now we pray. Well, that’s how he saves us. And even to this day, we pray the same thing. Jesus, save me from my sin. Save me from myself. Save me from all evil. Save me from the darkness of this world. And he does.
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.
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.
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.
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.