A Brief Meditation for the Month

April 2020

If we are familiar with our Bibles, we will be aware that the shortest verse in the Bible is found in John 11:35. It consists of just two words—“Jesus wept.” Jesus had real human emotions, which enabled him to express his inward feelings when he became personally involved in the experiences of those among whom he lived and worked. On this occasion, when the Saviour wept, he was surrounded with grieving, broken-hearted people, mourning the loss of a brother and a friend. They had experienced the intrusion of the great enemy—death—into their lives, leaving them sorrowing and grief-stricken. Jesus, the Son of God, had himself come into the world to die. He was to die, “the just for the unjust,” to bring sinners into a reconciled relationship with God, 1Peter 3:18. No death, therefore, could ever compare with the death appointed to him. Christ’s death was to be substitutionary. He would take the place of others who deserved to die because of their sins against God. Paul reminds us that death, both physical and spiritual, has become the experience of all mankind because all have sinned, Romans 5:12–19. How amazing it is therefore that the One who must die in the place of the guilty, should weep when one of the guilty physically died.

The Saviour’s weeping was among other things, an expression of sympathy with those who had experienced real loss. We read, “When Jesus, therefore, saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,” verse 33. It was as though Jesus himself felt their loss. Some of those who witnessed him weeping, responded, “Behold how he loved him!” John 11:36. Earlier in this chapter, we read, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” In life’s experiences, the stronger the love is, the greater the sense of loss must be. When Jesus wept, it was an expression of more than sympathy with Martha and Mary; it was also out of a sense of personal loss. Jesus, in his humanity, had lost a friend: verse 11.

While it is true that the Saviour intended to raise Lazarus from among the dead, he nevertheless saw and felt first-hand, what it was like to grieve in the presence of death. Of all human experiences dying is one many people fear most. When life, however, is pleasant, and death seems far away, few ever want to be occupied with thoughts about its end. Yet the Psalmist prayed, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12. A sense of our mortality ought to make us wise to prepare for our inevitable departure from this world, and our entrance into the eternal world. A proper state of preparation results in the peace and calm of the Psalmist David, who testified: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me,” Psalm 23:4. As death presently stalks the nations, many are grieving, while others fear what might happen to them or those near and dear to them. Where can we turn at such a time?

There is One who knows from personal experience, absolutely everything about death. He also shared in the sorrow and loss death brings into families. He wept with others when they wept. Through his own death however, he has removed the dread of dying for those who put their trust in him. It will be true of such, “These all died in faith,” Hebrews 11:13. No one can sympathize and comfort like the Saviour. No believer will ever die without his presence.

G. G. Hutton.