In John 11 there is the story of Lazarus. He is the brother of Mary and Martha, and a friend of Jesus. I was reading a book about infant loss. The author was mentioning this story in the Bible. She said something that really struck me. So let me give you the background to this story. Lazarus is sick, his sisters send a message to Jesus that he was very sick. Jesus gets the message but waits a few days before going to visit them. By the time he gets there Lazarus has died. Of course, Jesus knows that Lazarus has died, because he knows all things. He tells his disciples that he waited intentionally until after Lazarus died because he was going to do a miracle with Lazarus, but the disciples, as usual, don’t understand. They go to see the sisters and Martha comes out to meet Jesus. She is understandably upset and says to Jesus, “if you would have been here he wouldn’t have died”. We don’t fully know whether she was just stating a fact or whether she was angry with him, but knowing Martha from the scriptures I have a feeling it was both. Jesus tells her he will raise Lazarus from the dead but she doesn’t seem to fully understand. Then Martha goes to tell Mary that Jesus wants to talk to her. This is where we pick up the story.
32 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.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
I have read this a hundred times and just assumed Jesus was sad because everyone else was sad, but I never really got it. Why would he be sad when he knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead? Then I read a commentary about it in this book I was reading. In verse 33 when it says Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled, if you look at the original words there it’s closer to “became angry in spirit and very agitated”. He was angry, but at what? This commentary suggested he was angry at death. He was angry because death had stolen his friend and loved one and the brother of these women he loved. And then he wept.
That really made an impact on me. Jesus is angry with death. It wasn’t how it was supposed to be. We were supposed to live forever in the garden, but sin messed that up. And now when death steals someone we love, Jesus is angry about it and sad for us. When we delivered Andrew and I wept bitterly, Jesus was weeping with me. When I am angry about what I have lost, He is angry too. It’s ok for me to be angry with my situation and what I have lost, because He is angry too. There are so many people out there who think it’s not okay to feel those difficult emotions. It is. Jesus felt them too. He was angry and sad. Just giving yourself permission to feel these things and knowing that Jesus felt them as well, is a great relief. Feeling these emotions does not bring Andrew back to me, but it is a healthy part of dealing with the pain I have now.