The story of Jesus showing humility by allowing His friend to die
One of the most powerful verses of the Bible, in my opinion is John 11:35 and it has only two words.
The son of God wept. According to dictionary.com, to weep is “to express grief, sorrow, or any overpowering emotion by shedding tears; to mourn with tears.” Weeping is essentially the crying of your soul, it’s the most heart-breaking way to express the pain your heart feels.
Jesus wept. But then, we all weep at a certain point of our life, so what’s the significance behind Jesus weeping? First, it shows he was truly human just like you and I – He felt the same pain, sadness and happiness. Second, like us, He also developed human friendships. And third, and perhaps the most significant, He had the power and authority to stop his friend’s pain, but He yielded to God’s wishes.
What’s the story?
If you’re not familiar with the story of Lazarus, here’s some background. Lazarus and his two sisters were some of Jesus’ closest friends. But then, Lazarus got increasingly more sick, his sisters began to worry, so, they sent word to Jesus, asking Him to come and heal their brother, or maybe just to say good-bye and comfort His friends in this time of sorrow.
When Jesus got the message, He announced this was a great time to visit a neighboring town for a few days – a place where people were looking to stone Him. His disciples were shocked – maybe He’d gone mad? Was He in denial? Was He really not going to do anything about one of his closest friends suffering? How can He be so casual about it? I imagine they asked all these questions and more, and maybe some even began to doubt his legitimacy.
So what does this all mean?
This is where it’s time to read between the lines and work through the story backwards. In lieu of explanation for not rushing to Lazarus’ side, Jesus says…
“…This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” –John 11:4
He knew that His heavenly father intended to perform a miracle. He even knew that Lazarus would die, but even then He trusted God to do His thing. Still, I wonder if at any point He began to question “God, why would you let my friend die?” Maybe He even bargained a bit. “God, I’ll wait, I’ll even go to Judea and they want to kill me there! Just heal Lazarus, please.” I’ve seen many people fall into this dark place of misery, bitterness and loss of faith.
Finally, Jesus arrives in Bethany and His soul is “troubled” at the scene He finds: Mary, Martha and all their families and friends, probably adorned in mourning attire, weeping at the loss of their brother, son, friend, neighbor – Lazarus. And Jesus wept. Maybe His faith in God began to waver – after all, His friend had been dead for four days already and His friends were suffering unbelievable pain and sorrow. It seems that for a moment, Jesus took His sights off the Almighty and succumbed to the human pain He felt.
I’ve read this story and heard it in church dozens of times, but after a few years, even the miracle of someone arising from the dead began to fade. And the story fell back into the archives of my mind – a pleasant memory. But, at church on Tuesday, a sermon was based on this story, and although the preacher’s point was different, as I meditated on the passage read in church, the words I am writing now began to open in my heart. And just as clearly, it connected to my life right now.
Wait, what does this have to do with YOU?
God willing, I’ll be starting law school in the fall. It scares me & excites me. I know I have the knowledge, skills, and desire to succeed in law school. I’ll probably do well. A bigger problem for me though has been the daunting price tag attached to law school. I don’t know how I’ll pay for it. Yes, I can take out student loans and make it work. I can grasp the resources available to me, although not ideal, and make it work. Just like Jesus could have ignored God’s wishes and marched right to Lazarus’ bed and healed him on the spot. Everyone would still be impressed and maybe some would even start to follow Jesus as a result. And Lazarus would be alive. That’s happily ever after, right? It works!
But, Jesus shows obedience, self-restraint, faith, trust and above all, humility by pushing aside His personal sorrow to wait on God to act. As a result? LAZARUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD. It wasn’t a sickly man healed, but a dead man coming to life. It was unprecedented. It was a miracle, a fairy tale that probably spread like wildfire across the land, leaving people gaping in shock and astonishment.
God has been teaching me about humility a lot lately and this story taught me a little more about pride, trust and the overall power of my God.
So, today, I choose to yield. I will focus on my relationships and ministry with God and I will hand over my dream of law school to Him, allowing Him to shape it into a testimony of His power. I don’t know exactly what will happen, but I do know it will exceed my expectations. And even if He ends up replacing this dream with another dream, it will be that much grander than any anticipation I have.
As amazing as that sounds though, I am still a bit frightened, because I hate to give up control of my life and my decisions. I fear the unknown. And I’ll probably weep the next time my insecurities tell me I am not smart enough to go to law school or even the next time I see the tuition costs. But, that’s okay. Because Jesus wept. And in the end, a man rose from the dead. Can you just imagine the possibilities?
“…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” – Psalm 30:5
What are you currently struggling with? Where can you yield to God and wait for His glory to be revealed?