Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Heart of Jesus

Most people are familiar with the story from the Bible where we read about Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead.

In case you aren't familiar with it, it is found in the book of John, chapter 11 and continuing from verse 1 through 44.

Jesus had heard that His friend, Lazarus, was sick. Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha- Mary being the one who had anointed the feet of Jesus with fragrant oil, and wiped his feet with her hair. The sisters sent a message to Him saying, "Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick."

Jesus when He heard it, did not respond as most of us would have- when we hear that someone we love is sick, we barely respond at all aside from saying something like, "that sucks..." or, "stay away from me!" Or, we may say "poor thing! I'll pray for you..." (but then we forget to pray).

If you know the story at all, you know that Jesus didn't send a message back- He went to Lazarus. The thing that has always struck me is that the Bible says he didn't go right away. In fact it says (vs.4) When Jesus heard that, He said,

"This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

and, (vs.6) "So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where he was."

When I read that I was surprised that Jesus hadn't left immediately to go to his friend - at first I didn't understand the delay. If He knew His friend was sick, why wouldn't he immediately go and heal him? But as I read on, the answer became clear.

In verse 11 we read "...He said to them,'our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.'"

Of course, the disciples thought He meant that Lazarus was resting and they didn't understand why Jesus would disturb his rest. Then Jesus told them plainly "Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to him." (vs.12-15).

The disciples didn't understand- but Jesus knew what He was going to do. Why didn't He just go to Lazarus right away, and heal him, and prevent him from dying? The disciples had seen Jesus heal everyone who came to him asking for healing. They already knew He had power and authority over sickness and disease. What they needed to know- what He wanted them to see for themselves, was that He also Had power and authority over life and death. And really, which is the greater miracle- to heal from sickness or disease, or to raise someone back from the dead?

Another thing that has always struck me about this story, is the compassion demonstrated by Jesus when He arrived on the scene and witnessed Mary's grief and that of those who were with her- and saw her tears. Verse 33 tells us "Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled."

I have always thought it amazing that even though Jesus knew He was about to restore Lazarus to Mary and his friends, He still was so filled with compassion at their grief that he 'groaned' inside and 'was troubled.' And verse 35 tells us "Jesus wept."

A lot of people view God as being a harsh taskmaster. Eager to punish for wrongdoing and somehow untouched by our sufferings. But when you look into the Word of God for yourself, you see that the exact opposite is true. Just in this one chapter alone, there is bountiful evidence of the love and compassion of Jesus.

And his love is referred to 3 times in this chapter by the writer of the book of John-
verse 3: ..."Lord, behold, he whom you love...", vs.5 "Now Jesus loved...", and vs.36 "...See how He loved him!"

Everything Jesus did was motivated by His great love and compassion for us. And His tears and groaning at the sorrows of Mary, Martha, and the others who had lost Lazarus is further proof that He not only cares for us, but is deeply affected by our sorrows and sufferings.

Take your sorrows to Him and see for yourself what He will do in your own life.

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