Summary: Jesus said with His tears that He approved of that kind of sorrow. There is a valid place for tears in the Christian life. We need never fear nor be ashamed of the tears of the hopeful.

One of the oldest and most universal of all questions is the one of

Job, "If a man die shall he live again?" In the ancient world almost

everyone believed that death was a gateway into another world, and

so they buried their dead with food and tools to be used when they

arrived. This is obviously foolish to those of us today, but there are

many who also feel that the whole idea of eternal life is a foolish

superstition. They think it is only the hope of the weak and is mere

wishful thinking. But they are doing wishful thinking when they

hope that there is no life beyond and no penalty for sinful living.

Leslie Weatherhead points out that when the skeptic gives

medicine to his sick child he hopes it will work and restore the child

to health. He would be angry if you told him that was only wishful

thinking, and was a sign of his weakness. He would say that he was

not so simple as to believe that his hope could make the child well.

He was putting his trust in the medicine and not just in his own

wishes. There is nothing wrong with wishful thinking and hoping

when there is good reason for it. The skeptic would show you it is

only common sense to hope for what you love when there is good

evidence to do so. He would point out that this same disease was

cured in others and so there is evidence for his hope. This

reasoning applies perfectly to those who have hope for life after


We have a basis for our hope, and we also have case histories in

which the dead have been brought back to life. There was the

daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, and then Lazarus

the brother of Mary and Martha. We want to look more deeply into

this last case for it reveals a great deal about the attitude of Jesus

toward death. We want to look at three responses of Christ in the

presence of death here. The first response was that of


The Berkley Version has it, "Deeply indignant in spirit."

Martha had been first to go and meet Jesus, but Mary did not come

until Jesus sent for her. We do not know why, but she was likely

deeply hurt by the delay of Jesus, and she was not sure of herself,

and so she did not go to Him. But when Jesus called for her she

came and fell at His feet, and threw her tears of grief and doubt she

said, "Lord if you would have been here my brother would have

died." The Jews that were with Mary in the house followed her and

they were weeping, and the word means they were wailing.

Jesus responded with a troubled spirit. The meaning of this

response has been variously interpreted. There are those who feel

that Jesus was angry at the power of death because it caused such

grief to those He loved. This makes sense, but I feel that the

emotion of Christ here is like that He expressed on another occasion.

When Jesus came near to Jerusalem on the day of His

triumphal entry He beheld the city and wept over it. Why? It was

because the people were blind and knew not the day of their

visitation. The day of peace had come, but they would reject the

Messiah and their city would be destroyed. Jesus wept because of

their blindness, which was causing them to lose God's best. In

anger He entered the temple and expelled the moneychangers who

made the house of God a den of thieves. This is the emotion I think

Jesus felt as He looked upon these wailing Jews. Here He was as

the Lord of life and death in their very presence, but they were

blind and mourned as those who had no hope. Jesus was troubled

in seeing people live in the dark when the light is all around them.

We do not have near the love and compassion of Christ, but

have you not felt sometimes that you would like to take people who

are ruining their lives and just shake some sense into them? You

are indignant and troubled that they can be so blind. They cling to

hell and lose heaven for a straw. One of the most frustrating

experiences of Jesus was that of seeing the blindness and the little

faith of those whom He loved. Jesus was troubled and indignant

because they acted as if the grave was the end. Those who believe

that are dead already, for if death is the end, then life has no

meaning. Paul made it clear that if in this life only we have hope,

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