Sometimes, and I'm being totally honest, theology wears me out. The constant arguing between this group and that group over interpretations, literal vs. metaphorical, context, audience, all of the things that are part of our theological discussions sometimes just wear me out. Then you have to throw in questions about God: where was God in this story...what was going on that caused God to act/react in a certain way...and sometimes I get lost in the complexity of this God story if I let myself.
But then there are times when you don't have to ask God questions, you don't have to wonder if this is a text we need to take literally or metaphorically, there's no need to argue interpretation...it's just there, simply. I like those sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I love wrangling with the difficult stuff, but every now and then, it's nice to take a break and just let a text speak for itself.
And that is what I found this morning. Two little words: "Jesus wept." John 11:35, the shortest verse in the bible. It's found in Lazarus' story, well one of his stories. You see, he had gotten sick, and his sisters sent word to Jesus that he was sick. I've wondered why Jesus waited two more days to go to him, especially since he loved Lazarus and his sisters the way scripture says he did, but the story tells us. He waited because he knew that Lazarus was going to die, but that he wouldn't stay dead, at least not this time. At least four days after hearing that he was sick, Jesus finally showed up.
You can almost feel the emotions in this story, and don't we need that sometimes? Jesus had lost someone very close to him, and since he was fully human as well as fully God, it hit him kind of hard. It does the same to us when we lose someone close. It doesn't say why he wept, only that he did. We can assume that it was because of his love for this family. Some might say that there were other reasons, I don't know. But today we see a very human Jesus in the midst of a very real loss.
He was a rebel, no doubt. He totally bucked the system for sure. He stood up against an empire, and told the folks around him that life as they knew it was not what God had intended for them. But today, in this story, he has lost one of his closest friends and we get a glimpse into his softer side.
Tim McGraw did a song about grown men crying. There's nothing wrong with it, even if you're Jesus. But in this story his tears didn't last long. They took him to the tomb, he commanded them to roll away the stone, and he yelled to the body, "Lazarus, come out."
We could wrestle with the question that was asked that day, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" We could do that and it would make for a good discussion, but today, let's just give him a minute. Lord knows we need that sometimes. Today, let's allow him into our pain and brokenness, those moments in our lives that drive us to tears, let him cry with us, and then wait for his healing word to be spoken. Sometimes, it's as simple as "You are forgiven." Always, though, it's "I love you."