Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why did Jesus weep?

Music is such a powerful medium. I was driving to Seminary today listening to music on my IPod's shuffle setting. Out of nowhere I found myself weeping as I listened to the Robbie Seay Band sing a song called "Breathing Air Again". That doesn't happen often. I am an emotional guy but often my commute to school isn't a deep time of thinking and significance for me. Often I am tired and feeling drained, sensitive to my fellow road users and their bad driving habits. Today it was raining hard outside the car and there were unstoppable tears inside the car.

The lyrics were simple but the music was compelling and drew me to listen to the words. They were about slowing down and being aware of people around us, of slowing down to laugh and breathe and gaze upon the stars. The song made me think about the people in my life: my wife who I love, my family who I love and miss, my neighbors, my friends near and far and my colleagues at work.

What grabbed me the most was the fact that I could not help myself. I was unrestrained in my emotion and didn't feel the need to suppress the tears. It reminded me of my New Testament for Ministry lecture last night on the Gospel of John. In part of the class we were examining John 11 and why Jesus wept at Lazarus' death. He was fully God alongside being fully man. He knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and allowed him to die. In the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, we read that Jesus wept.

We don't know exactly why Jesus wept. Perhaps Jesus was angry with death itself. He was moved as he saw the other people weeping, for sure (John 11:33). Jesus knew the spiritual significance of death and dying and was prepared for his own death. He knew that his own impending death would be for the sins of the world. What my professor drew out last night grabbed my attention. He said that Jesus moved into the situation and lived among it. He allowed the pain to touch him and he was affected by it. He was the Messiah. Martha had acknowledged that fact earlier in the chapter and Jesus, the King, was there in the mess of life bringing life and hope in himself.

That is the power of Jesus' incarnation. Eugene Peterson says in The Message, "The Word (Jesus) became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood..." Jesus was moved and his life, death and continuing life move me to share that hope with others. Am I awake enough to notice the needs of those around me? Or am I too preoccupied with my own little world to be really involved in this kind of engagement with others?