Lord, take us with You to Lazarus’ grave.
Text: John 11:33-38
Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.
Here two words are the most remarkable. They make up one verse. John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the whole Bible, and yet one of the greatest. “Jesus wept.” Here He wept at the grave. Soon afterward He wept over Jerusalem and then again during His agony in Gethsemane. With His own tears God’s Son waters our graveyards and our favorite places and our paths of glory. His tears here at Lazarus’ grave show us His human heart, His brotherly spirit, and His friendly attitude toward us. When you grieve over someone who has died, you have Jesus’ sympathy. You don’t have to be afraid of crying. Besides you know that your tears are sanctified by His tears; you know that He has wept the same way and was tried by the same sorrow. You know that He has paid for the sin, which is still always present in your sorrow through your selfishness and your weakness in faith. But you also know that your tears are entirely different from those of the unbelievers. In unbelief’s sadness there is hopelessness and anger toward God; in faith’s sadness there is anger against sin and death, but devotion to God’s will and hope for blessed reunion.
What is said here about Jesus is precious beyond expression. “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.” Whenever death strikes near to me and takes away any of my loved ones, I feel a sincere anger toward this “king of terrors” and a deep sadness over our deep fall that has given cruel death power over us. Away with it! Out of this world with it! Back to the devil with it, from whence it came! It would be useless to cry out and weep and curse sin and death. But God’s Son has taken upon Himself our pains, and He does not weep in vain, He has not been so terribly frightened by death that ravages the earth; for He takes sin and buries it and by His resurrection promises us that death shall be forever banished. So now I cry out and weep against sin and death no longer in vain.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your weeping! Teach us to understand it, and grant us to find healing there. Amen.
Despair not, O heart, in thy sorrow,
But hope from God’s promises borrow
Beware, in thy sorrow, of sinning,
For death is of life the beginning.
A dearly belov’d one hath left us;
God hath in His wisdom bereft us;
But He will not leave us forsaken, –
We know that the dead shall awaken.
When dawneth the glorious morrow,
This body, that we view with sorrow,
A glorified form shall be given,
Restored to its spirit in heaven.
O Christ, our souls’ Maker and Lover,
When time and earth’s travail are over,
Thou closest the grave’s mournful story,
And callest Thine own to Thy glory.
Prudentius: L 528:184.108.40.206 LHy 595:220.127.116.11 tr. O. T. (Sanden) Arneson;
tune: Med Sorgen og Klagen (LHy 595); alternate hymn: O sacred Head, now wounded ELH 335:8