The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is so often told as a miracle of Jesus power to give life, whether physical or spiritual. But what if there’s another lesson here, not for the dead, but the living?
“Jesus,” the boy called, “Jesus, you must come now. Lazarus needs you.”
“So many people need me,” replied Jesus with a sigh, “but I will come with you.” And he put his arm around the boys shoulders and they all headed out of town towards Lazarus’ village.
It was a long and tiring walk. And when they got there, they could see that people in the street were upset and crying. The boy ran ahead and when he returned he had the worst news. Lazarus had died.
Jesus stopped walking. Everyone was very quiet. They could see Jesus was upset.
But Jesus walked straight to his friends house. When he saw Lazarus’ family crying, Jesus went and sat down with them. He said nothing at all. He just sat with them. The disciples could see there were tears in his eyes. “Jesus wept,” someone said later.
The disciples felt very uncomfortable. They just stood around, not knowing what to do.
“Shouldn’t Jesus be trying to cheer them up?” Simon said very quietly to no one in particular. “This is so awkward,” said John, “I’m so uncomfortable when people cry.”
“Yes,” whispered Andrew, “me, too.”
“If only we’d gotten here sooner,” said Thomas.
“Our dad always said to be strong and get over it,” said James. “He said there’s no crying in fishing.”
“Mmhmm,” said someone, “for sure,” said another.
Jesus heard them and came over.
“I hear you,” said Jesus. “Thomas, big things happen in our lives when they’re supposed to happen. And no, it’s not okay to think you can be tough and get over it. You don’t get over being sad, you learn to live with it because it’s part of who you are. And crying isn’t just okay, it’s important. When we cry it gives us a chance to say something words can’t. It helps us let out our feelings.”
The disciples all looked at their feet. There were a few mumbled “sorry, Jesus”-es and a sniffle or two.
“Hey, listen. You can’t just cheer people up or hope they’ll pretend they’re okay just cause you feel uncomfortable. The best thing you can do is just sit with them. Try and understand they’re hurting and just sit with them.”
The disciples looked at each other.
“We don’t need to say anything?” said Thomas. “Not really,” said Jesus.
“What if they just want to cry?” asked Simon. “Then that’s okay,” said Jesus. “Just let them know that you’re there and that you love them. That’s what God’s doing, too.”
“Should we bring Kleenex?” asked John. “Oh yes,” said Jesus.
Simon looked around at the room full of people. “We’re going to need more Kleenex,” he said. Jesus smiled.