Mary and Martha were in mourning for the loss of their brother Lazarus. Jesus arrived outside Bethany and Martha went to meet him. She greeted him with a mild rebuke, but also with a considerable measure of faith, ‘Even now God will give you whatever you ask’, and, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus replied with some remarkable words, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’
As we saw on Tuesday Jesus has spoken a lot about the life that he gives to people. His promise is that those who believe will have eternal life. For example, to the woman at the well, ‘Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ (4:14). Here Jesus makes it clear to Martha that although we die nevertheless eternal life goes on beyond death. The guarantee of this is Jesus himself. When he said that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, he also said that he had authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again 10v18. The resurrection of Jesus is central to our faith. Because he lives, we also will live. Eternal life for his followers is only possible because he laid down his life and rose again from the grave. Our life is bound up with his death and resurrection. Listen again to his promise to Martha, ‘The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.’
Martha went back to the house and Mary then went to see Jesus, followed by the mourners who had come to be with her in her grief. She also greeted Jesus with the same mild rebuke as her sister. She and those who had come from the house with her were weeping. The sight of this grief and tears moved Jesus very deeply and troubled him and he asked where Lazarus had been buried, so they invited him to come and see. Then, we read, Jesus wept v35. How wonderful that our Saviour wept at that moment when in the company of others weeping. Tears sometimes come in private but they can also come in sympathy with others who are weeping. Sometimes we cannot control our feelings and we cry and are embarrassed. It is enough to know that Jesus wept. In Hebrews we read that we have a high priest (Jesus, now in heaven) who is able to sympathise with our weaknesses. Let’s give thanks that the One who prays for us has personal experience of our human condition, and wept.