This week I've been thinking about the New Testament story of Lazarus. As the story goes, Christ is summoned to Bethany by his disciples Mary and Martha. When he arrives he is witness to Mary and Martha's inconsolable mourning; they weep for their brother Lazarus who is four days deceased. Christ asks to see his dead friend, and as they roll back the tomb's lumbering rock, Jesus calls into the darkness. Lazarus emerges alive, his body wrapped in grave linens and celestial light. This is one of the great and last miracles that Christ performs before his own death and resurrection.
The story's finale offers up a message sublime in its simplicity: through Christ we will all live again. But there's a quieter moment in this story that is its own kind of miracle. Shortly before Lazarus' resurrection, Christ walks with Mary and Martha towards Lazarus' grave, and as they walk, he weeps.
"When Jesus therefore saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept." --John 11: 33-35
Christ knows he has the power to reverse the irreversible and will soon breath life into his lifeless friend. And yet he does not tell Mary and Martha to stop mourning. He does not admonish them to get over it. He does not judge them in their pain. Nor does he make any attempt to assuage their ache in that moment. He simply walks with them and weeps. This, to me, is where the great beauty of this story resides.
It makes me wonder. How often do I rush to remedy when the more Christlike approach is to sit in silence? How quickly do I move to mend when what my neighbor needs most is a moment to mourn? How hasty have I been in judging another person's pain because I'm frustrated they can't see the same solution that I see? We are all such vulnerable bodies, the walking wounded, really. If there's anything to learn from the story of Lazarus it's that sagging spirits are strengthened when we show up for each other without agenda, advice, or admonishments but come instead with an open heart, wide arms. listening ears, and ready tears. We often need do nothing more than emulate Christ: take our fearful friend by the hand, walk together, and weep.