Monday, 22nd March
Reading John 11: 28-44
Jesus wept.John 11:35
In most English translations verse 35 is taken as the shortest verse in the bible. Used by some as a way of swearing, or exclamation, the phrase really reflects the emotional connectedness and compassion of Christ for the world, it comes after we hear he is “deeply moved”.
Arriving at Bethany Jesus already knew that his friend Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, was dead. He also seems to have had something of a plan that Lazarus would not be spending long in the grave, but resuscitated to continue life on earth until a later date. And yet he stands with the family and friends who cry, and cries himself. Having hope, and knowing of life, does not stop us from having grief.
I recall in my early twenties attending the funeral of one of my grannies. I was strong in my faith, and knew she trusted in the Lord. I had no fears of where she may be, and so I went into the church walking tall. At some point, however, during the funeral I looked further than the coffin, beyond the lectern where the minister stood, and past the high raised pulpit. My eye had been drawn to one panel of the stained glass window in the south wall, the sun was shining through it revealing Jesus at the grave of Lazarus, and as he wept there, I wept in the pew.
This has been a year where many of us will have wept, perhaps at the loss of a family member, the loss of a job, struggling with isolation, or worried about whether there is food for the dinner table. We have perhaps also wept that we have not been able to gather in solidarity with family and friends who are shedding tears. In those places where some have been absent Christ has been present. It is in the hopelessness that He brings new hope, and new life.
It is perhaps a strange juxtaposition that another two word verse, and one that is actually the shortest in the original language of the New Testament is 1Thessalonians 5: 16 “Rejoice always,” which we can because of God’s Love seen at Christ’s Cross, and in his rising from the grave.
Why not bring prayers today rejoicing with those who rejoice, and offering prayerful tears with those in tears.