Summary: By following Jesus to the tomb we learn that it’s okay to shed some (1) tears over life’s loses, but that our tears must eventually give way to the (2) truth.
Following Jesus to the Tomb
My wife has a lot of shoes. That may not surprise you. One pair of shoes in particular, however, is unique. She’s had them since high-school, and written on the heal with white-out pen is the inscription G22. In fact, all of the girls on my wife’s old pom squad have a similar pair of shoes with the same inscription.
One icy night a car with three freshmen basketball players was headed to their high school to catch a bus to the game. However, the car did not make it to the school, nor was there a game that night. The car slid on a patch of black ice at a stop sign, and the boys skated straight into the path of an oncoming garbage disposal truck.
One of the boys suffered a minor knee injury, another was in a comma for about a week. One of them, however, was killed instantly. The impact of the crash had been so forceful that the front passenger, Jared, was thrown into the window.
My wife grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. So needless to say, the loss was everyone’s loss. Most of Jared’s friends just called him G. Twenty-two was the number on his basketball jersey. So, in honor and remembrance of their lost friend, my wife and the other girls on the dance team wrote G22 on their shoes. It was one of the symbols that helped them grieve and became a constant reminder of his life.
People are like snow flakes—each one different and unique. But one thing that we all share in common is that at some point in life we will all experience loss. The losses may be different—the loss of a child, a parent, a friend, a spouse. Or perhaps the loss you experience won’t come in the form of death—the loss of a job, or the loss of a spouse, not through death but divorce.
How do we respond to life when we lose the ones we love? How do we go on when it feels like can’t go on? There are no simple solutions. But perhaps, by looking to Jesus—the author and finisher of our faith—we may just find the help we need.
Jesus was across the Jordan River, where John had been baptizing in the early days, when he got the news that his dear friend Lazarus was sick. The trip to Bethany, Lazarus’ hometown, was about twenty miles. Had Jesus left immediately he could have been at Lazarus’ side by nightfall. Instead, he choose to wait two more days before leaving for Bethany. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus was already dead.
Jesus’ decision not to go directly to Bethany would provide him the opportunity, not only to demonstrate his divine power, but to relate intimately with Lazarus’ sisters—Mary and Martha—experiencing along with them the pain and sorrow of losing their brother.
As Jesus approached Bethany, the first of the sisters to meet him is Martha. But it is his encounter with Mary that reveals the human side of our Savior and the cleansing power of our...
Mary went to the place where Jesus was. When she saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw Mary crying and the Jews who came with her also crying, he was upset and was deeply troubled. He asked, “Where did you bury him?”
“Come and see, Lord,” they said. Jesus cried. (John 11:32-35)
David once wrote, “I am tired of crying to you. Every night my bed is wet with tears; my bed is soaked from my crying” (Psalm 6:6). It seems to be a universal experience, in times of suffering, sorrow, or disappointment, that a person’s bed becomes a pool of tears.
Some have actually tried to discover a scientific reason for this. Gregg Levoy, in an article in Psychology Today, claims that certain chemicals, which affect our moods, build up within our bodies during periods of emotional distress and that crying actually releases those chemicals. Biochemist William Frey has also identified three chemicals, including the chemical manganese, which are stored up by stress and says that the lacrimal gland—which determines the flow of tears—concentrates and removes these chemicals from the body.#
I still prefer M.R. DeHaan’s explanation though: “A tear is the distillation of the soul. It is the deepest longing of the human heart in chemical solution.”#
Statistically, women cry about four times as much as men. During the course of an average lifetime, the typical American man cries 1,258 times; the average, however, woman cries 4,764 times.# The Bible records at least seven occasions on which David wept bitterly. Jeremiah described his weeping as both a fountain of tears and a river of tears. And it is comforting to know that even Jesus wept. Our Savior is actually recorded shedding tears three times: over the fate of Jerusalem, over the death of Lazarus, and finally in the Garden of Gethsemane.