Summary: Jesus’ compassion.
by: Rev. Ken Sauer, East Ridge UMC, Chattanooga, TN
Text messaging and emails have brought with them a whole new language.
For example, when two persons are exceptionally close, perhaps they are best friends, one will write to the other, “You are my BFF.”
Now what in the world does that mean?
You only need to ask a teenager to find out that BFF stands for “Best Friend Forever.”
Do you all have a BFF?
Perhaps this person is your spouse or a brother or sister.
Maybe your best friend forever is someone you met in elementary school, and have stayed in contact with for many years!
Sometimes our best friend forever is someone we have only known for a short time, but have become very close, very quickly.
Some people have only one person they consider to be a best friend.
Others have several.
I think that Jesus had many, many best friends…
…but high on the list was a man named Lazarus, his two sisters being Mary and Martha.
Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived in a town called Bethany.
It was a place that Jesus seemed to have spent a good deal of time.
He had friends there.
He hung out there.
He felt comfortable there.
It’s interesting to note that the word “Bethany” means, literally, “the house of the poor.”
It was a place where many poor, needy and sick persons lived.
And Jesus had a special affection for this place, and it for Him.
How amazing and wonderful it is to get a glimpse at the heart of God.
There’s a saying that if you want to get to know a person, just take a look at that person’s friends.
And the persons whom Jesus felt most comfortable around were on the low-end of the economic and social ladder.
And these were the folks who appeared to recognize and appreciate Jesus the most as well.
The sick, the sinner, the diseased, the marginalized…
…these are the people who were closest to Christ…
…and perhaps, these are the people who remain closest to Christ.
Anyhow, our Gospel Lesson informs us that Jesus had a BFF who was sick.
Lazarus’ sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
But instead of jumping on the road and heading to Bethany as fast as He could—Jesus stayed where He was for two more days.
And Mary and Martha, in Bethany, watched their beloved brother die.
What was Jesus doing?
From the rest of the story, I think we can tell.
Jesus was praying.
Jesus was wrestling with the Father’s will.
As we read later, this experience at Bethany caused the high priest to begin plotting Jesus’ death.
As so often, Jesus needed to be in prayer, exploring the Father’s will.
Only then would Jesus act.
So two days after receiving notification about Lazarus, Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
In verse 16 we see that Thomas was determined to follow Jesus, putting one foot in front of the other at Jesus’ command…
…even as he speaks with heavy foreboding, “Let us also go that we may die with him.”
Of course, they don’t die with Him, or at least not yet…
…but Thomas definitely has the right response!
There is an awful lot that we don’t understand about this life, and our hopes and dreams often get thwarted.
But if we go with Jesus, even if it’s into the jaws of death, we will be walking in the light!!!
We are told in verse 33 that when Jesus saw Martha weeping, and those who had come along with her weeping, Jesus “was deeply moved in spirit and troubled…”
In verse 35 we are told, “Jesus wept.”
And in verse 38 we are told, as Jesus came to the tomb He was “once more deeply moved.”
In classical Greek, the usual usage for what is translated here as “deeply moved” is that of a horse snorting.
So it must mean that Jesus was seized by such deep emotion that Jesus let out an involuntary groan that wrung from His heart!
How much more proof do we need to understand that our Lord is one with us?
Throughout the Gospels we can feel that Christ’s glorious message of hope is not spoken by someone on the outside looking in…
…but by One Who was Himself touched by what life brings upon the rest of us.
The world around us is suffering…
…it’s falling apart in emotional turmoil…
…the pain is everywhere we look…
…so we look to the Word of God—into the Gospel of John—and ask: “Lord, how can I help the hurting that is all around me?”…
… “Where can I turn when I’m hurting?”
I think that if we look deep into this passage we will find the heart of Christian care bound up in the character of Christ—Companionship, Comfort, and Compassion!!!