This is the first of a short series on John chapter 11.
In John 11 we have the story of Lazarus. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are three siblings whom Jesus loves (11:5). They send word to Jesus that Lazarus has fallen sick. Jesus knows that Lazarus is going to die and waits where He is for two more days before leaving for Bethany–which is where Lazarus and his sisters lived. When Jesus finally decides to leave, He tells His disciples that Lazarus is already dead (11:14-15).
When Jesus first heard that Lazarus was sick he said,
“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” – John 11:4
Later Jesus said,
“Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” – John 11:14-15
From these two verses we can see that Jesus knows that He is going to raise Lazarus from the dead. It is part of the plan.
Jesus and His disciples then travel to Bethany. By the time they arrive, Lazarus has been dead four days and everyone is in mourning for him.
“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked.
‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.
Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!” – John 11:32-36
Jesus knew all along that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew that He was about to turn their sorrow into joy and yet He still wept with them. Twice in John 11 it says that Jesus was “deeply moved”. Here in verse 33 when He saw Mary and the others weeping and again in verse 38 when He arrived at the tomb where Lazarus was buried.
This is a powerful example of how God relates to us even now. He is sovereign and knows exactly how things are going to work out and holds all things in His hands. For His children, He can see that everything will be redeemed, either in this life or ultimately in heaven. However, knowing that it all works out in the end for our good does not mean He is any less involved in our pain now.
It would have been understandable to me if Jesus did not weep for Lazarus or mourn with Mary and Martha because He knew He was about to restore him to life. Yet Jesus does weep with them. He experiences their pain with them. The same pain He is about to take away.
This is what God does with us. He knows when He is going to take our pain and replace it with joy. It might be just around the corner or at the end of the road. Either way, He is the God of all comfort and compassion and can perfectly relate with us. Our short finite lives do not detract from God’s great care for us. God is infinite, seeing beginning to end, and yet He is still wholly present in our daily lives.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18