‘Jesus Wept’: How the Bible’s shortest verse speaks to George Floyd’s death, racism, raising Lazarus and our ultimate hope of ‘getting it.’10
June 3, 2020 by John Nicholas Prassas
John 11:35 is the verse – Jesus wept – and it speaks to the condition of my heart these days and perhaps to yours as well.
This verse dates back to the death of Lazarus, a good friend of Jesus, and to his sisters Mary and Martha who were heartbroken that Jesus didn’t come quickly enough to save their brother.
When Jesus arrived and assured Martha that Lazarus would rise again she sadly deflected his words as a ‘pie in the sky’ promise of heaven. Her brother had been dead for four days.
But Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Believe it or Not
Martha said yes but quickly hustled away to find her sister.
Some time after this moment – but before he called Lazarus out of his tomb alive – Jesus wept.
Why did he cry? Was he overwhelmed by the mourners who had come to comfort Mary and Martha? Was he suddenly distraught about his good friend Lazarus’ death? Was he grieving the terrible death he knew he would soon suffer on the cross?
Or was he just grieved to know that even his most ardent friends and followers didn’t understand his true identity or mission even when he tried to explain it to them, point-blank?
Despite everything he had said and done during his miraculous three year ministry – and despite even raising Lazarus from his grave – he had to realize that no one really ‘got it.’
Our Long History of Being Clueless
George Floyd’s murder was absolutely shocking. His casual execution by a white man with no hint of mercy or concern about killing a defenseless man in broad daylight is one of the saddest and most outrageous things we have ever seen. And yet…
Have you ever seen footage of Nazi concentration camps or Jewish prisoners? Or photos of KKK lynchings? Have you ever studied the nuts and bolts of slavery in America or anywhere else throughout history? Or read detailed accounts of machete-wielding massacres in Africa? Or the handiwork of Mexican cartels or various forms of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and genocide around the world?
The sad truth is our history is busting at the seams with deception, oppression,corruption, torture, injustice, thievery, murder, molestation, prejudice and the utter and absolute abuse of power. Every day, all day, 24/7.
And much of this damage has been done by people who say (and believe) they’re Christians! Including Nazis, slave traders and certain cops.
Is it any wonder Jesus wept?
Why We Don’t Get it (And How We Can)
Why don’t we ‘get’ Jesus and his mission – or accept his invitation to change the world?
For the same reason his closest followers didn’t understand – until the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost 40 days after Jesus’ resurrection, an event commemorated just last week on the calendar.
That event is detailed in the book of Acts chapter two and it changed (and still changes) everything. Why?
Because Christ calls us to a supernatural life, not just a ‘religious’ life of do’s and don’ts or a life of lukewarm ‘faith.’ And he gave us the supernatural power to live it.
This life is powered by the Holy spirit that came at Pentecost and who continues to fill and enable believers to do noble, gracious, revolutionary and miraculous things today like love our enemies, bless those who curse us, liberate captives, heal the sick, empower the oppressed, battle against injustice and even forgive those who injure us, with or without their apology.
He once said “With man these things are impossible but with God all things are possible.”
Our calling in Christ is the highest calling on earth, higher than any president or CEO.
This is the high calling of Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa and William Wilberforce, the man who brought down slavery throughout the British empire, and it’s the high calling of other believers who bought and released slaves around the world or fought to abolish slavery in America.
Today this high calling compels us to insure that ‘justice for all’ is a reality on every street in America and ultimately around our world.
I pray you embrace your highest calling in Christ today and ask the Holy Spirit to fill and empower you – for your sake, for George Floyd’s sake and for the sake of the world.
With faith, hope and love,
Your brother John
Got any related thoughts or experiences? Please comment at bottom of page.
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Why so long between posts? Your stuff is great and I would love to see more.
Thank you for your encouragement, Brad. Your question is a good one and I don’t have a good answer. Distracted mostly by other commitments I guess and discouraged by my own inconsistency and limited readership I think as well. I have thought about posting short chapters of a book I’ve been writing, tentatively called The Halo Effect: How God’s Most Amazing Grace Changes Everything. Maybe one chapter a week. I think it’s a good/important book and would love to have a support group of readers offering instant feedback. Any thoughts or suggestions?
Do you remember talking to me? You gave me Brad Blank’s phone number and I talked to him for a long time. I’ve stopped blogging about football lately because my wife said I was not paying attention to her and she was correct. I also gave my heart back to God which had been an issue since I lost millions of dollars back in about 2008. I was so angry with God because I thought he had called me into supporting missionaries financially. Then, I lost almost everything.
But, I will say I am back now and with new spark even though I am getting long in the tooth. I will buy that book if you get it published and I prefer Kindle if possible. Ha.
Thanks for refreshing my memory, Brad and for being real. Sounds like you’re addressing some important stuff. I’ll follow up with you off-line. Thanks again for your encouragement and for your honest example of spiritual renewal. I think you might enjoy my ‘man-sized’ (i.e. short!) book, God’s Spirit of Adoption but I’ll leave that up to you. You can grab it on Kindle. Peace, brother!
I went on Amazon and bought God’s Spirit of Adoption. I’ve got a ton of books to read, but I’ll get into that one pretty quickly and leave a review.
Awesome! Looking forward to your thoughts, thanks.
Wow, John, haven’t gotten anything from Your Royal Calling in a long time. Trust you all are well. I am fine. At nearly 73, I am enjoying just being at home and in my garden. Of course, I am fortunate and get to work from home too (2 clients at the moment). Just dealing with some residual effects of the stroke. Learning to live with them after 18 months.
And, what are you up to these days?????
In the Word every day now for nearly two years and what a difference that makes. Like I need to tell you.
All the best always and, of course, God bless you always, as well…
On Wed, Jun 3, 2020 at 11:08 AM Your Royal Calling wrote:
> John Nicholas Prassas posted: ” John 11:35 is the verse – Jesus wept – and > it speaks to the condition of my heart these days and perhaps to yours as > well. This verse dates back to the death of Lazarus, a good friend of > Jesus, and to his sisters Mary and Martha who were heartbroken th” >
Hey Chuck, great to hear from you. Yes I’ve been preoccupied for a while, but there’s nothing like a global pandemic and a series of heartbreaking (and deadly) assaults on unarmed black people to get you back to the basics of love, mercy, justice and peace. I’ll catch up with you offline to trade updates. God bless you, brother.
As always you have a way to make things fit clearly. Will get in touch shortly. Blessings.
Thanks, Jim. Got your offline email and will be in touch!