John 11:35 (nirv)
This is the shortest verse in the english translations of the Bible. But in just 2 words, God has shown us everything we’ll ever need to know about Him; His heart. If you haven’t read John 11, here’s a quick breakdown: Jesus has a group of besties; Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. They’re siblings that have not only welcomed Him, but started to follow Him and trust Him.
At some point, Lazarus becomes ill and isn’t looking so good. The sisters send for Jesus, because they trust that He’ll heal their brother; His friend. When Jesus gets the news, He does something interesting. First, He declared that Lazarus would live, and second, He intentionally stayed where He was for an additional 2 days. Those two things seem counterproductive, don’t they? Jesus took so long to get there that Lazarus not only died, but was already buried by the time He arrived. Right before finally leaving to go to Lazarus, Jesus said to His disciples, “For your benefit, I am glad I was not there. Now you will believe. But let us go to him.” (v.15)
As you can probably imagine, when Jesus arrived, Martha and Mary were mourning. The whole interaction between the sisters and Jesus is so interesting in and of itself. They’re upset about the loss of their brother, disappointed that Jesus hadn’t come sooner, and yet still incredibly hopeful for the possibilities now that He had arrived.
After Jesus had talked to both of His friends, the sisters of Lazarus, He became very upset. This is when He cried. We know that Jesus is God. And God is Jesus. And we know that He knows everything, sees everything, and understands everything. Just a few verses later, we see that He does in fact raise Lazarus from the dead. So why is Jesus crying?
His heart is filled with deep love and compassion for His friends. He’s hurting because they’re hurting. Jesus isn’t questioning the fate of Lazarus or blaming Himself for not getting there sooner. He’s simply sitting with His friends in their pain.
So many people believe that when they suffer a terrible tragedy, it must be the result of their sinful actions, and they’re receiving God’s punishment. This short verse shows us how untrue that belief is.
When we feel doubt, God knows what’s certain. When we feel fear, God is strong and steady. When we can only see what’s right in front of us, God sees the past, present, and future. Yet, He cries with us. This pain and this suffering were never the plan. This isn’t how it was supposed to be. And even though Jesus paid the ultimate price so that it won’t be this way forever, He can still see the world through our perspective, in it’s current, painful state.
One of the things my husband and I often disagree on is listening versus doing. He’s a fixer; a problem solver. I’m a talker; someone who just wants to share my feelings. I’ve been trying to teach him the phrase, “I’m sorry, that sucks” for the last 8 years. He thinks that attempting to solve a problem is the only way to fix it. He’s not entirely wrong, but sometimes, empathy is the thing I really need – ladies, do you feel me?
Jesus is the one who offers us both. We see Him solve the problem by raising Lazarus from the dead. But, before He jumps into “fix-it” mode, He cries. He sits with His friends in their pain. He experiences their grief alongside them. He shows them (and all of us) that He sees them, that He gets it, and that He wishes it was different… that one day, it will be different.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Like all things, Jesus displayed compassion perfectly in this situation. He showed us that whatever pain we’re sitting in, He cares: deeply, infinitely, and endlessly.
Journal about a circumstance or situation you’re currently experiencing, or that you’ve gone through in the past, that requires empathy. Write as many details as possible about what you’re feeling, your disappointments, your desires, and your pain.
For the situation or struggle that you journaled about, and for the ability to feel and experience the Lord sitting with you in that.
Tips & Tools
For this recipe, I used the Chèvre with Honey goat’s milk cheese and multigrain sourdough bread, both from Trader Joes. While I prefer sprouted grain bread, I’ve found that the density of sourdough is pretty perfect for toast that’s getting smothered, in ordered to keep it from getting soggy!
Products I Used
The serving plate pictured is from Ikea.