In John 11 Jesus responded in two very different ways to two sisters, Mary and Martha, who asked him the exact same question. Their brother had died from sickness. Both said to Jesus, disappointedly, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” To Mary he gives a theological answer, but to Mary he shows the reaction of a friend. We need both responses when we’re disappointed with God.
Frankly, I have always thought Jesus’ tears (11:35) were a little odd. He knew that he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead and that in 10 minutes everything would be made right. Then why would Jesus weep with Mary? Why not just tell her to wait because everything would be okay in a few minutes?
Jesus weeps with Mary to give us a picture of how he goes through suffering with us. Even when Jesus knows the pain is temporary, he knows what it feels like for you, and he weeps with you. He weeps with you because he is your friend. That’s how I know a friend loves me. It’s not that they can give me all the answers when I’m in pain; it’s that they weep when I weep.
To a God outside of time, ten thousand years is not that much different to Jesus than ten minutes. He can already see the beautiful end to each of our story. He can see all of our suffering swallowed up in the glorious resurrection. But when you are hurting, as much as you tell yourself that Jesus sees the beautiful end, it’s still painful right now. Sometimes you need not just theological answers; you need the presence of a Savior who feels your pain and weeps with you.
What a friend we have in Jesus! “He took our sin and our sorrow, and he made it his very own. He bore our burden to Calvary, and suffered and died alone.” He feels, as his own, your every broken-heart, every shattered dream, every sorrow. This does not mean that Jesus has no answers to the hard questions of suffering. It means that we can trust those questions to him.
There was another time in Jesus’ life that he wept, but nobody was there to weep with him. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would weep with such anguish that the capillaries in his face would burst. But no one would respond. The Father turned His face away. Jesus would ask his disciples to stay awake with him, but they would all fall asleep. He would die friendless and Godless.
But because of that, I know that he will never forsake me. He was forsaken so that I could never be. He died so that all that could have separated me from God would be removed. He died so that I would never have a season of suffering in which God would not weep with me in my pain.
Jesus cried alone and died alone so that when I cry and die I will never be.