“Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!”
– John 11:35-36
It seemed that Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, had a special place in Jesus’ heart. As John wrote, he indicates explicitly that Jesus loved these three, much like John writes about himself, “The one whom Jesus loved.” Did that mean Jesus does not love anyone else? Not at all! He loved the world so much that He came to die for everyone, and there is no greater love than that.
The description we see of Jesus’ love for Lazarus is unlike any other in the Bible. Jesus loved Him. It begs the question, “why would Lazarus be referred to in this manner?” Could it be that Lazarus had a special calling on his life, unlike any other? Could it be that the calling on his life would resemble that of Jesus’ life?
When Jesus arrived in Bethany, it had been four days since Lazarus died. It is interesting to point out that Jesus did not only say Lazarus was sleeping, as He did in other cases, but Jesus specifically told everyone that Lazarus was dead. He did not make this statement in any other case. We are also told that when Jesus was summoned, He waited two days to head out to Bethany. If Jesus loved Lazarus so much, why did He wait so long? We find the answer in Jesus’ own words, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Raising Lazarus from the dead after four days would leave little doubt who Jesus claims to be, God incarnate!
Jesus did love Lazarus, and He was a man acquainted with grief, but I do not think Jesus would weep because Lazarus died. I believe Jesus would have praised God because Lazarus would now be in glory. No, Jesus wept because He knew Lazarus had a difficult mission to fulfill. We later learn that through this miracle, “many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.” We also learn that the chief priests wanted to put Lazarus to death.
Jesus wept because He knew He had to call Lazarus back into service from glory into this sinful world. He cried because Jesus knew that Lazarus would be put in harm’s way. Jesus wept and rightly so, who other than Jesus would know what it would feel like to come down from glory to save the lives of many?
Every Christ-follower has a calling. Some of us have callings that may put us in harm’s way. Jesus never promised serving Him would be easy, but it will be glorious. Done with the right heart, a faithful servant will continue on with resolve because it glorifies God’s name. No matter where you serve the Lord know this, Jesus prays for you. He weeps for you. And He understands what you are going through.
“…our Lord wept because Lazarus, who had been but four days in glory, was to be summoned to lay aside his glory and to return to this world of sin and death.” “When our Lord was told of Lazarus’s death, He was glad; but when He came to raise him to life, He wept. For, though His disciples gained by it, and though Martha and Mary gained by it, yet Lazarus himself lost by it, by being re-imprisoned, re-committed, and re-submitted to the manifold incommodities of this life.”
– Alexander Whyte