The lifeless body of Lazarus. The accusing glances of the crowd. The anguished faith of Martha. The cold despair of Mary. And the silent question of them all, “Lord, if You had only come…”
Christ, standing on the verge of Lazarus’s tomb and resurrection, wept with the tears He would later shed at the brink of His own (John 12:27). Yet He knew these were transient tears, momentary tears (2 Corinthians 4:17). Why did He not chide them? Why did He not revel in the coming delight of a grief dispelled? After all, He had come to raise Lazarus, to restore him to life. Why then was Jesus’ pain not assuaged by the knowledge of what the next moments would bring? Why did He pause to enter the moment of a passing agony?
From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus had declared, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me… he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted… to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit…” (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:18).
Bind up the broken-hearted. Comfort all who mourn. To grant. To give. To do that, one must descend. One must enter the moment of another heart’s anguish and set about as the means of restoration. Jesus wept because in that interval He beheld the entire reason for His coming. His vision encompassed the grievous ravages of sin and its desolating effect on the human soul. Yes, He came to earth as the resurrection and the Life. Yes, His blood would be the means to restoration. But for the moment, for that brief span of time, He entered fully into the grief of Mary and Martha. And the heart of Jesus wept.
But Christ did not come to simply grieve with us; He came to purchase a path through suffering, to alter our ending, “to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit…”
Jesus is the hope that is real. Our tears do not fall unheeded in the dark; rather, if we look to Him, our tears glisten in the dawn of coming redemption. Transient tears are stored in His bottle (Psalm 56:8) and momentary afflictions prepare for us “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” That perspective, though misted all over with melancholy, offers new vision, enabling the eye to “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Co 4:17-18) The soul set on redemption looks upon present sorrow but sees the coming of His future hope.