Today’s Scripture: John 11:30-39a
30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
Jesus’ friend has died. This was not unexpected. In fact, Jesus had been told that Lazarus was sick. But now he has died and Jesus makes his way to see Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha. Maybe Jesus could have saved him. And of course, there were those who had to chime in with their opinion. “If he had only gotten here sooner! He healed a blind man, but he couldn’t stop his own friend’s death??” But Jesus knew God was up to something bigger. And yes, sometimes we are so focused on the immediate problem that we miss the bigger thing God might be up to.
As I read this passage, there is a part that really sticks out for me. It’s the part where Jesus saw Mary crying and “a deep anger welled up with him.” Even when he got to the tomb the text tells us “Jesus was still angry”.
Here’s my question. Why the anger? Was he mad at himself for not arriving earlier? Was he angry at the people who felt it necessary to share their “opinions”? No, I think there is something deeper going on here.
Notice that Jesus does not get angry until he sees Mary crying. You see, I think his anger stems from the death of his friend, yes – but also from the pain and suffering that death creates in those left behind. In other words, Jesus is mad about what WE have to go through. Jesus’ emotions are about us. He’s angry because we suffer.
I take some comfort in Jesus’ anger here. It makes me realize that God cares about what we are going through. In a way Jesus’ anger validates our emotions and feelings. But in addition to that validation, we see action. Jesus does not just get angry – he acts. And he’s still acting today. (More about that in tomorrow’s devotion!)
For today, just know that Jesus is aware of what you are going through. He’s angry at injustice. He’s troubled by your troubles. He’s sad about your sadness. You can bring him everything – and he cares.
God we thank you that you are a God who cares about our emotions and the things that we are going through. Help us to bring our all to you in the knowledge that you understand and walk with us through life – no matter how hard it gets.