Rev. Drew Stockstill
Emerge: A Savior Who Weeps and Loves
John 11:33-36 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died. The savior emerged. When Jesus came to the tomb where Lazarus was buried, Jesus met the grief of those gathered there. Jesus emerged into the chaos of the tragedy of untimely death. Jesus emerged and was met by anger, disappointment, confusion, and deep grief.
I have seen these things in the past days. I have felt them myself. Grief is complex and it is not one-size-fits-all. After a death like Tyrone’s…. a child’s death…a violent death, the added shock, it greatly disturbs.
And that is how our empathetic savior emerges.
Christ is compassionate. His compassion is a cause and result of his incarnation. When Christ became human, it was to feel with us, to feel as we feel, to suffer as we suffer (co-passion, co-sufferer). Christ emerges in the midst of our grief, and the resounding, compounding grief that is rippling around our nation and all of creation stemming from poverty, racism, absurd violence, despair, and disease. Indeed, all creation is groaning and we with her. The Gospel says, when Jesus saw Lazarus’ sister, Mary, weeping, and the whole community weeping, he was “greatly disturbed in the spirit.” I feel how the King James Bible translates it: that when Jesus saw them weeping, “he groaned in the spirit.” A mother groans her child into this life; she groans him all the more into the next, so also all creation is weeping, grieving, groaning. So, Christ groans too.
This is how our savior emerges in the wilderness of tragedy and grief: honoring our pain, joining our pain, groaning with our groaning, weeping with our weeping, mingling his blood and tears with the blood of the dying and the tears of the crying. And it is his shared grief that testifies to all who see: “See how he loved him.” It is in Christ’s suffering and grieving with us that his love for us is most evident. We know this love when we have felt the presence of one who sits with us as we grieve.
Christ joins us in our suffering, honors our grief, and then, in time, in good time, he takes what causes us to suffer and transforms it into new life….in time. For now, see how he loved Tyrone. See how he loves you, our weeping, groaning Christ.
(Artwork: “Jesus Wept” by Brian-Micheloe-Doss)