Today we enter Holy Week, which culminates in the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is an emotional time of year for me, as I reflect on how Christ took on our humanity to the extent that he experienced death and the ultimate suffering of separation from God. Because I am mourning my own recent loss, this year it is especially helpful for me to know that Jesus knew something about the experience of death.
But recently a friend pointed out a different passage than the ones about the crucifixion. I’ve heard the story many times before. Yet I now have a deeper understanding of the meaning. It’s the story of Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. My friend told me Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb because of his love for Lazarus, love that He did not withdraw even at the expense of his own sorrow. He didn’t pull away or try to sidestep the loss with an early intervention. Jesus not only understands death, He understands grief. The real miracle that day may have been His willingness to experience bereavement, even though He didn’t have to. In that, He gives us hope of eternal life, He gives us an example of comfort, and He gives us understanding in our sadness.
When someone has suffered a loss, the story of Jesus weeping at Lazarus’ tomb should also go on the list of good things to say.