I think Jesus would have felt my pain. This week's scripture, the story of Lazarus being raised from death, gives us a glimpse of his own grief in the midst of loving human relationship. "Jesus wept," or so one translation of this famous-for-its-brevity verse goes.
This year, I'm especially touched by this reminder of Jesus' humanity--he felt the pain we experience in the finite nature of human life.
And yet, he dares us to see beyond.
The story we'll read this week ends with one of my favorite images: having just (loudly) called Lazarus back to life and out of his tomb, Jesus then commands others to "unbind him, and let him go."
What a bizarre scene--so filled with the details of the experience of human life and death. Martha, always the practical one of Lazarus's sisters, warns Jesus about how much dying stinks. Literally. And yet, even out of the stench and the tears of death, Jesus calls us into life, and invites us to be unbound.
It is as if Jesus is preparing us for what's to come through his own death and resurrection. This week's story is an odd foreshadowing, but really will be nothing like Jesus' resurrection. After all, Lazarus is simply called back to human life as a delay of the death of his body. Jesus resurrection doesn't postpone his own death--it transforms it completely.
But we can only begin to be ready for that transformation if we start to loosen ourselves up--and allow ourselves to be startled out of the troubles and grief we find ourselves enmeshed in. We need to be ready for something completely beyond what we expected.
Jesus is showing us that he's a part of something mind-blowing.
AND YET, he's human. Weeping along with the others. Feeling the pain of the frailty of life. And, even as he grieves, points us elsewhere, toward amazing possibilities. (It would be so much easier to just retreat into a self-protecting mode, wouldn't it?)
Jesus calls us to unbind Lazarus, and let him go. I pray that we will all have the daring hope--even in the face of human pain--to let the Holy Spirit go, and bring mind-blowing grace into our midst.