John 11 in the Bible is the story of a man named Lazarus, or so I thought until yesterday. As I reread the story everything struck me differently than it had previously. This time I was reading with the intention of observing the humanity of Jesus. I read the story I have heard a million times and saw for the first time the pain of Jesus.
Up until this last read through I had always focused on Mary and Martha, and their grief at the death of their beloved brother. Sure I had seen Jesus weep, but it had always struck me as insincere. That he was crying out of expectation and duty rather than sorrow. Why would he weep over the death of the one he came to save?
It was with fresh eyes and conversation with Jesus during my prayer that I was able to see his pain as so much more than I had given him credit for. Not only was Jesus coming to comfort Mary and Martha in the loss of their brother this was for him a foreshadowing of his own death and resurrection soon to come.
Perhaps he was brought to tears then not because of the death of Lazarus but rather because he was seeing for the first time how much pain his own preeminent death was going to cause those whom he loved. Not only that but the idea that they still were not expressing the kind of faith that he knew they were going to need in order to deal with his death until he was able to be with them again. He knew what was going to come and perhaps this knowledge was what brought him to tears.
For the first time I also became aware of a different truth held in this story. The idea that the death of Lazarus was not only a projection of Jesus’ death and resurrection it also paints a picture of what we all must go through in order to be saved. We like Lazarus all must die (not physically like he did) to our own human nature, our own will so that we may be saved by Jesus’ intervention on our behalf.
As we observe Ash Wednesday and enter into the season of Lent I think it prudent of us to remember the humanity not just the divinity of Jesus. That he in the weeks leading up to his death experienced emotions that we can relate to. There were moments like in this narrative of deep sorrow and anguish and there were moments of elation with every other emotion in between.
Jesus was fully God, yes. He was also fully man. His willingness to die so that we may live is what love is.