‘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
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