Revelations from the Word

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Jesus and the death of Lazarus

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"The Jews then, who were with her in the house and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, 'She goes unto the grave to weep [klaio] there'. Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, 'Lord, if You had been here, My brother would not have died'. Therefore, when He saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping. He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to Him, 'Lord, come and see'. Jesus wept [dakruo]. Then the Jews said, 'See how He loved him'" (John 11:31-36).

According to the meaning of the verbs 'to cry' in Greek, Mary was shouting as she wept [klaio], whereas Jesus was silently shedding tears [dakruo]. At the sight of all these people who were bewailing the death of their brother or their friend. Jesus was very moved in His spirit, meaning He was spiritually moved.

In fact He purposely delayed His arrival (John 11:6-7) so that the glory of God might be made manifest (John 11:40) and to give concrete teaching on resurrection and life. Jesus wept because His friend had died, but also because He saw His own death and resurrection which were going to happen about a week later (John 12:1); Jesus could also see all those who would be weeping at the time of His death on the cross, believing everything to be finished for the One they thought to be the Messiah.

Jesus could have prayed as soon as he learned that His friend was ill, and Lazarus would surely have been healed (John 11:3). But He was in this way fulfilling the will of His Father, "This illness is not unto death; but it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it" (John 11:4). Therefore Jesus was fulfilling the will of His Father by leaving His friend to die; at the same time as showing the glory of God He was also showing how God Himself was going to glorify him, that is to say through His death and resurrection. Death on the cross was not therefore to become an end in itself, but the beginning of something spiritually new.