Lessons from John 11: Overwhelmed with Grief
After this conversation with Jesus, it appears that Jesus sent Martha to go and get her sister Mary. Remember, Mary had remained at home, probably too overwhelmed with grief over the death of her brother Lazarus to go and meet with Jesus.
In verse 29, when Mary heard that Jesus was asking for her, she quickly got up and went to where He was. And when those around her saw her get up, they followed her thinking she was going to the tomb where Lazarus lay. But when she got to where Jesus was, Mary fell at Jesus’ feet. She was probably overwhelmed with grief and feeling hopeless. Mary said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
And when Jesus saw her tears and the grief that compelled her, “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (verse 33).
Which raises the question: Why, if Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus to life, was He so torn apart? Why?
Could it be that He was torn by the effects of death and the destruction of sin? Effects that had entered into the world in the Garden of Eden?
Jesus saw the ravages of Satan’s kingdom of evil and He had come face-to-face with death and its destruction. This was not the way God had intended it to be and I believe this grieved Jesus and moved Him to tears.
It was also what moved Him to leave heaven’s throne and put on flesh and suffer a criminal’s crucifixion so that lost sinners might be saved.
Tenderly, Jesus asked, “Where have you laid him?”
It appears that both Mary and Martha were present then because in verse 34 we are told that, “they replied, ‘Come and see, Lord.’”
And when they arrived, we have the shortest verse in all the Bible, verse 35, “Jesus wept.”
We too should shed tears over the grip of sin not only in our own lives but also in the lives of others. We should share our grief and our sorrows with the Lord and then trust Him to do as He sees best.
But I am afraid that all too often sin and its effects have lost their sting. We just push them aside and go on with our business. We would do well to follow Jesus’ example and grieve over the sin that we see. Then take it to Him in prayer and get on with His business at hand. Meaning we don’t stay there, but we also don’t deny its existence.
Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
The secret to peace with God is discovering, accepting, and appreciating God’s perfect timing for everything under the sun.
The danger for Mary and for us is when we stay too long in a place that God would not have us remain. The danger in remaining too long when God is trying to lead us on is that we doubt or resent God’s timing. This can lead to despair, or depression, and rebellion. Or, on the other side, we run ahead and move without His consent or advice.
We would be wise in these times to remain faithful to stay in His word and keep in step with His Holy Spirit.