Death is something that I really truly hate. The changes it brought into my family in 1970 with the death of my brother have marked me forever and it is still something against which we all fight daily. My boss, Tom Petty, fights that fight by having as a clear emphasis in his life to be a ‘life giver.’ I have seen him ‘fight’ death by encouraging people, by helping them to see the life of Jesus and by just being kind where others might be cruel. But this post is not about that. How to fight death on all its fronts should be another post.
I wanted this post to be about how God feels about death. Gerhard Maier wrote about this in his commentary called “Edition C” ((Maier, Gerhard, Ph.D., ed. Edition C Bibelkommentar. Holzgerlingen: Hänssler-Verlag, 1996.)) He says,
“Now when Jesus saw them crying, . . . he was deeply moved in spirit and was distressed” This report is important because it shows how God reacts to death. For Jesus is not just human but also God. “Whoever sees me,” he says to Philip (John 14.9), “sees the Father.” That it is really God-like reactions is also shown by the phrase, “in spirit” (equals in the Holy Spirit). [see the German blow] ((»Als nun Jesus sie weinen sah, … ergrimmte er im Geist und es packte ihn Erschütterung.« Dieser Bericht ist deshalb wichtig, weil er zeigt, wie Gott auf den Tod reagiert. Denn Jesus ist ja nicht nur Mensch, sondern auch Gott. »Wer mich sieht«, sagt er zu Philippus (Joh 14,9), »der sieht den Vater.« Dass es wirklich göttliche Reaktionen sind, zeigt auch der Ausdruck »im Geist« (= im Heiligen Geist).))
So for us to see Jesus’ reaction to the death of Lazarus would help us to understand how He feels about death. Lazarus was His friend, the whole family was. How does He respond to them? Death is one of the things He will conquer at the resurrection; how does He feel about it before that? Why does Jesus cry? Was He sad about Lazarus’ death? Was He sad that the mourners did not believe that He could raise Lazarus from the dead? Was He mad at sin and its consequences? Was He crying because of His empathy for Mary and Martha? Why would God cry?
Maier writes more about this in his commentary and so will I in my next post..