Why it matters that Jesus wept

Originally published Monday, 13 July 2015.

I stopped on the story of Jesus and Lazarus the other day. Stopped right at the part about Jesus weeping.

He wept. Fully.

Compassion poured from His eyes and ran into His hands, hands which would soon enough be torn up on a bloody cross. Maybe He bent over in grief, pressing those hands to His mouth, without words.

See, the God of the universe did not simply blink extra and ignore the well of emotion coming to His holy eyes. Didn’t choke it back and cough gruffly. Didn’t manage out something about how everything happens for a reason after all, and what a beautiful life this one lived at least.

And, I couldn’t get over that scene of Heaven’s Glory grieving long and hard over His friend, Lazarus.

Why? Because certainly Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead. Certainly He knew that death would never keep this one, not this time.

Certainly He knew it was within His perfect power and awesome sovereign ways to fix this situation.

Yet, for the moment or maybe for many moments, He wept. He grieved. He entered into the loss with compassion. He stayed there silently and let His human heart break with the brokenness of sin and death, for which He alone had the capacity to redeem.

Jesus wept – willing to feel what He knew He could fix.

And that’s where I stopped because I’m not sure we know what to do with that.

How often we’d rather fix something than feel anything. We’d rather give a hand than grieve. We’d rather move on than mourn.

It feels better to feel less, and sometimes we feel less when we just make it all better already - and quickly. Our hands are jumpy to do something, anything to remedy the mess, as if maybe then our hearts would be protected from the weeping.

As a people of great blessings and privilege, maybe it hurts us just too much to see the brokenness of this world. It's just not comfortable or pleasant to see so much injustice and unfairness. It ruins our days, clogs up our Facebook feed, settles into our cities, bothers our picture-perfect visions.

And I wonder if deep-down, we know we can't fix it therefore we don't want to feel it.

But, friends, maybe we are called to feel. To weep long. To let the brokenness break our hearts a little. To be affected deeply and fully. To enter in with empathy and sit for awhile.

Jesus would shortly raise Lazarus from the dead, yet he deemed it worthwhile to feel before He fixed. He sat in the loss with this family. It wasn't comfortable. It wasn't pleasant. It cost him his heart.

Can we who wait on that same redemptive power for the fixing of our lives and our world still find it worthwhile to feel? Can we open our hearts and expose ourselves to the pain and trauma and mess of the un-fixable situations in our community and our world without skirting away? Can we choose to stay in a relationship, stick close to one who is grieving, willingly step into the hard places where hearts get battered and lives seem hopeless and just causes appear futile?

Friends, let's do just that. Let's be so full of compassion and empathy that it flows from our lives and our eyes, as we stand before the tombs of our Lazaruses.

May we be people who live real lives, up-close with dirt on our hands and with hearts that are sensitive enough to collectively weep over that which we long to see Jesus resurrect, change, redeem. May we be that passionate, that alive, that engaged as Christians today.