Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Birth of the Church and the Infilling of the Spirit: John Tells it Differntly

John 20:19-31

It is Easter evening. The believers are locked behind closed doors. This group is made up of more than just the twelve disciples. The group would have also included the women and other prominent believers, as well as the twelve. The group may have even been as big as the 120, who are said to have been in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. The group is hiding behind locked doors. They are all aware of what very well may have occurred, but I am sure doubts remain.  Peter and John can attest to the empty tomb, but since they returned and only Mary stayed. She was the only one to meet Jesus in the garden. She is the only one who can bear witness to the Risen Christ.
Can you imagine what might be going on behind this locked door? Are they afraid? Perhaps, there is still a possibility they are in danger? Could those who plotted to have Jesus killed, be even now plotting their deaths as well?
Are they discussing the story which Mary has shared? Do they believe her? Do they dare trust her words?  Are their hearts full of hope?  Or doubt? What if she is telling the truth? What if Jesus is really truly alive? What if the Messiah can conquer even death? Is there a sense of stifled hope?  What are they thinking? What are they discussing? “If Jesus is really alive, where is he?”
And then suddenly he is there with them. He is standing among them. What are they thinking in that moment? Their dead, but now alive Messiah, has just appeared in the room with them. “Didn't we lock that door?” “How did he get in here?” “Whoa, wait he is really alive, Mary isn't crazy! That's a relief.” “He is alive. He is here. I mean right here.”
And all Jesus says is “Peace be with you.” And then gives them proof that he is whom he appears to be, whom he seems to be, whom they dare wish that he is. He allows them to see the holes in his hands and the cut in his side. He is the Jesus who died on the cross, which means he is the Jesus who has risen from the dead. They can see beyond a shadow of a doubt, through undeniable proof that the man who stands among them, is Jesus Christ himself, raised from the dead, just as Mary had told them he was.
Then he says it again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Jesus' words and Jesus' presence is there to give them relief, to calm their spirits, to allow them to be still within themselves and know, truly know that he is indeed alive. This is not supposed to send them into a tailspin; this is not to bring chaos into the turmoil surrounding them. This should not bring fear; Jesus wants his presence to bring them peace, the peace which only the God of universe, the creator of all things can bring to them.
And with these words not only are the turmoils and tempests within them calmed, but they become a sent people. For John, THIS is when the Church becomes the Church. They are no longer simply followers and Disciples of Christ, they are the people sent by Christ. In this moment of sending, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you send,” they become the Church.
The meaning of what it means to be the Church, here, is to be a people sent into the world by Christ. In the Gospel of John, this is the “great commission,” “Go therefore . . .” They are sent into the world to teach what Christ taught, to live as Christ lived, to proclaim the risen Savior. In this moment they become the image of God in Christ for the world; reflecting the Savior and their God in a world who truly knows neither. 
At this point it would be so easy to just jump to Thomas, skip the next bit and get to the “good stuff.” After all the evening which involves Thomas, is this evening; the evening of the Sunday, a week after the resurrection. It would be fun to compare and contrast these two evenings; to look at the signs the Disciples were given on the evening of the resurrection and see how they match up with the signs requested by and then given to Thomas a week later.
I love Thomas. In fact MOST of the time that this passage comes up I preach about Thomas. I like bringing Thomas out of the shade, which is usually cast upon him, into the light. He is believing-Thomas, sane and reasonable Thomas, Thomas who simply requests for the same signs and proof of the Risen Savior as received by all the others. But I digress, because I am not preaching THAT sermon today. Today, I am going to skip Thomas. I am going to stick to the first part of passage and plow right into the part that is easy for us preachers to skip, because sometime it is hard to deal with the fact that John tells the story of Christ differently than the rest of the Gospels, most importantly differently than Luke, differently than Acts. And we really like the way Acts tells it.
So here we go. After Jesus has calmed their fears, brought them peace, and declares them to be a Sent People, he breathes on them and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. The newly resurrected Lord instills the Spirit of God within his followers, the new declared Church. Although this is not the traditional way we are used to hearing about the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit, which in Acts happens on the Day of Pentecost, John relates the story “slightly” differently; having Jesus give the disciples the Spirit on the day of his resurrection. Not only does the Church become the Church, by being sent, on Easter evening, but the Church receives the gift of the Spirit on Easter as well.
John truncates the events. The day of the Resurrection is THE DAY for John.  It is the day that changes everything. So when John tells the story of the Resurrection, he puts all the most important things there on Resurrection day. This is the day when it ALL happens for him. The only day since the dawn of creation that really and truly matters.
So, Jesus breathes on the disciples. The newly declared, sent, Church and receives the Spirit. The words, which describe these events, are the words of creation. On the final day of creation God reached down into the dust and formed a human and once God had finished creating the human, God leans over and breaths into the human, bringing the human to life. It is through God breathing God's own breath into humanity that all humans gained life.
The language John uses here on the first day of the resurrection of the Christ is the language creation. This is the first day of the new creation and Jesus Christ breathes life into his followers, into the Church, life. Here on the evening of the resurrection new creation has begun, this day marks a new beginning not only for Jesus Christ, and for Church, but for all creation. Just as was done on the day of creation, life, this time, new life is breathed into humanity. With the breath of God filling them, Jesus is giving humanity a chance to begin anew, through Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, humanity is brought close to God in a way they had not known since the Garden. They are filled with the very breath of God. God's own breath giving them new life, through infilling of the breath the resurrected savior all humanity regains the hope, lost in the Fall.
The new life we find in Jesus Christ is found in the life giving Spirit.  Through Jesus Christ, our relationship with God is renewed and strengthened; we get a new start, a fresh life, a new beginning. We are re-created, we gain all that was lost in the Fall, we gain relationship with our God, we gain the ability to be God breathed people, who are inhabited by the very Spirit of God; living our lives reflecting the love of God and sharing that love with all those around us. We are able to live as we were created to live.
As God breathed people we gain the power of God's own infilling, the power of the re-created life. The breath of God gives us the power to gain proper relationship with God, but as a Wiseman once said to a Spiderman, “with great power comes great power comes great responsibility.” The power gained in the God-breathed life has responsibilities as well. The responsibility of the power is the power to forgive. Jesus tells us that whatever sins we forgive on earth will be forgiven. We are given the power to forgive; to see the faults in those around us and forgive them. To turn others and extend to them the forgiveness we ourselves have received from God.
There is a flip side to every coin. Jesus also says that any sins we retained will be retained. This is a warning, a caution. We are to be people of forgiveness but not retention. Jesus gives us the power to forgive and to not forgive. But we must know that when we do not forgive it means just as much as when we forgive. So our first response must always be forgiveness. We are to forgive because we have the power and the responsibility to forgive as Christ forgives. This is an extension of God’s love which God has been shown to us. We, as Christ’s life breath, still living and moving on this earth, are to be Christ’s love and forgiveness here on earth. We love where Christ loves, and we forgive where Christ forgives. It is through us that those around not only know the love of God, but it also through us that they know of the forgiveness of God.

It is here, we, as followers of Christ receive the Spirit. It is here we become the Church. It is here that we learn what means to BE the Church. It means that we are a sent people. A people sent into the world by Christ, by God; sent into the world love AND to forgive. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Racing to the Tomb: An Easter Sermon

John 20:1-18

Most of us know this story. We have heard year after year. We know that after the Lord’s Supper, Jesus went up to the garden to pray. After he got done praying the guard’s came and took him away. We know that the trial ends with the crowds shouting, “crucify him!” and we know Pilate gives in to their wishes and sentences Jesus to death. We know they flog him and that they take his robe from him and then cast lots to see which of them get to keep the robe. We know that after several hours Jesus finally dies. We know that they take his body down from the cross and lay it in the tomb. But most of us do not even stop to grieve at this point, because we also know the end of the story, we know that on Sunday morning the tomb is empty and Jesus Christ is alive because he has risen from the dead!
As we listen to or tell the story our minds cannot help but wander to the end, to the, “He is risen!” part. Our minds are there long before he has even been nailed to the tree. We can’t wait to get to the end. We know that it has a happily ever after ending. We know Jesus does not stay dead, we know that Christ has risen. Because of this, all too often, we do not truly appreciate the joy such an ending to a story must be.
As Mary approached the tomb that morning she did not expect to find an empty tomb. She fully expected to find a dead body. But instead she finds the stone has been rolled away. To a person living in the first centur,y, the stone being removed from a burial site can only mean one thing – grave robbery! Someone must have stolen the body sometime between Friday evening, when they laid it in the tomb and early Sunday morning when Mary arrived. She is in shock, she is upset, she is horrified, so she goes and tells two of Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John.
They take off running. A foot race to the tomb ensues. Peter takes off first, but John is hot on his heels. John catches up and the two were neck and neck for a short while, but then just at the last minute, John gets a second wind and get there ahead Peter. Once the two are there they look inside, and see that Mary is right and it says John believed. But what did he believe? He believed, but he did not yet believe that Jesus had risen. They looked in the tomb and believed, believed that Mary was right, the tomb was indeed empty. John did not yet understand what the scriptures say about how the Christ must rise from the dead.
He and Peter both come to the same conclusion, which Mary had previously come to, that is that someone has taken Jesus’ body away. They are consumed in grief, they thought things were really bad when Jesus actually died. Just when they think things cannot possibly get any worse, they do. The person whom they truly believed to be the messiah, the Son of God is dead and all their hopes and dreams are crushed. Now on top of that, someone has stolen his body! This is a horrible tragedy. What could be worse than having the dead body of someone you knew and loved, stolen from their grave just a few short days after their death? This is the tragedy to end all tragedies.
The two return home, brokenhearted and despondent. Mary chooses to stay and is weeping over the tomb. She is deeply affected by what has happened this morning. I have always imagined that at this point, she is standing outside the tomb crying gently and quietly. But as I have studied this text, I have discovered that there was nothing quiet and gentle about how Mary was weeping. What this actually says in the original language is that she is wailing according to the morning customs of her day.
She is wailing at the top of her lungs. Mary is completely and absolutely distraught! Her Lord is dead and someone has stolen his body. This is not the time for quiet, gentle weeping, this the time for loud gut wrenching sobs. The kind of wailing that comes uncontrollably, the kind of wailing that involves the whole body, the kind of full body sobbing one participates in when the whole world has come crashing in and there seems to be no end to the chaos and confusion. Nothing will ever be right again! Mary is standing outside the tomb crying in this manner!
It is in this shocked, confused, deeply distressed state of mind that she sees the two angels and Jesus. It does not occur to her that this man might be her Lord. She immediately believes him to be some sort of gardener and asks him if he knows what has happened to Jesus’ body.
At this point, all it takes is for Jesus to say one word, “Mary.” Upon hearing him speak her name, she Immediately recognizes him as her Lord. Jesus then gives Mary a message to pass on to the others. Jesus asks Mary to be the first to preach the good news of the Gospel of the risen Lord.
Mary is elated. Just a moment ago she was positive that her world had come to an end, that she would never be able to get over the grief that she was experiencing, now, she is so excited that she can’t contain it! She has seen Jesus! She has seen the Lord! He is alive! He has risen! Who would have thought? How could they have ever guessed that when they found the tomb empty that it would mean that he had risen from the dead? The world is not only right, but it has never been more right. The sky is bluer and the grass is greener than it has ever been before. Because Jesus is alive. She knows that he is alive! She has seen him! She has seen him!
We as Christians have exciting news! Jesus is alive. We know that he is not dead. We know that death has no power over him. But, perhaps, we have heard the story too many times. We know the ending. It is not exciting. You would get more emotional if I read the passage and changed the end of the story than you did when the scripture was read earlier this morning, with the miraculous ending that it has. We do not get excited and want to tell everyone we meet. We are not struck with awe at the amazing nature of this event. It is old hat. Of course Jesus rises from the dead, what else was he going to do? It does not occur to us that this morning’s story should have ended with Mary anointing a dead body with burial herbs. But it did not end that way. It ended with Mary running off to tell the disciples that she had seen Jesus and that he is alive!
This is something to be excited about! This is something that should change our world! This is something that should make all things right! Jesus is alive! Jesus is alive! Not only should this change our lives, but it should be something that so fills us with joy, so that we cannot help, but want to tell everyone we know about the glorious truth of the resurrection of our Lord! Jesus is alive!
We should never let the hindsight of history turn this miraculous event into yet another story, which we know so well that we can recite it by heart without affecting our lives at all. We should never let ourselves listen to this story the same way we listen to so many other stories that we know so well. We should let this story shape and change our lives. We should let this story fill us with joy and excitement. This story should fill us so completely that it spills out of us on every possible occasion. There should not be one person in our lives who does not know how this one event defines who we are and changes everything about us.
Jesus is alive! And because of this we are changed! Because of this the whole world is changed! Let us shout it from the rooftops and proclaim it to the entire world. The tomb is empty! Jesus has risen from the dead and he is alive!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Between the Celebrations: A Sermon for the Beginning of Holy Week - Matthew 27:11-60

"So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.”
. . . In the beginning, before God spoke creation into existence, the earth was formless and void and the spirit of God hovered over the deep and when God died the earth shook, the body was laid in a tomb, a stone blocked the entrance and everyone walked away with everything they ever knew to be true shattered and broken. Darkness fell upon the earth and creation was undone.
In less than a week the crowds went from ready to crown him king, to calling for his crucifixion. In less than one week Jesus went from riding on a donkey, to hanging on a cross. In less than one week Jesus went from having praises sung to his name, to the silence of a cold dark tomb; from palms and cloaks laying out path before him, to being sealed behind a stone. In one day his disciples go from united together around him sharing a sacred meal, to scattered and scared watching as their world, the entire world, falls apart around them. From king to criminal. From beloved to abandoned. From festive celebration to funeral. From light to darkness.
This is the week in which we remember the events which take us to that place of darkness. This is the week in which we remember that the fate of all creation hung in the balance when Christ gasped his last breath, when his body was taken, dead and listless, down from the cross. That the earth shook, that darkness fell. The sun might have come up bright and beautiful on Saturday morning, but the world held its breath, and all creation like a widow standing over a tomb on a bright spring day, saw nothing but darkness and mourning. For one moment in time it all ceased to make sense and it seemed as if time stood still, that everything was frozen in that moment, that dark moment, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?", "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And he cried out one more time and breathed his last breathed.” It was finished. The worst that could be done, was done. God hung on a cross and nothing was done to save the Christ as he suffered, bled and died. And all the earth joined in the cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Rocks were split, curtains were torn, graves thrown open and the earth shook. Creation was threatened to be undone, the one through whom all things were created had died.
Sometimes it is easy to forget what the death of Christ really meant. From this side of the events it is hard to get upset that our God died. For one brief moment in history all meaning and sense fell apart. The only explanation, makes absolutely no sense, is is utter gibberish: God died when Christ died. This is the non-sense that the world had to live in from Friday night until Sunday morning. We have our palms here in our hands. We have our songs, our shouts of Hosanna and then we have the glorious thing that is resurrection morning. It is easy to get lost in the celebration of it all and forget that neither of these events have any meaning outside of an understanding of the death.
The remembrance of the life of Christ is a remembrance of an entire life, the remembrance of a birth, of a life lived, of the teachings Christ gave us, as well as a remembrance of a death. It is fun to celebrate Christ’s birth. It is edifying to celebrate his baptism, to talk about and learn from his teachings and his miracles and we will come back next Sunday and celebrate the glorious, unexpected truth that defines us as Christians, but first we have to come to terms with Christ’s death.
In my experience dead things are just that, dead. Dead is a permanent thing. It is not something curable, or fixable. When you watch the coffin of one whom you loved and cherish go into the ground, there is nothing hopeful about that moment. When Joseph walked away from the tomb that day he was walking away from a dead man, a body, a corpse who would live no more. There was no hope. For him there was no bright Sunday morning on the horizon. The disciples did not know that they would break bread with him again in just a few short days time, that they would see, hear and touch him ever again. For them this was the end of the story. . “He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away,” the end. How can the story go on? How can there be more? Jesus is dead. All the hopes and all the dreams of all humanity, nay all creation rested in the God-man, in the messiah, in Jesus who was called the Christ, the messiah. And they took him. They beat him, they made fun of him. They nailed him to a cross, he died, and then they took his body, laid it in a tomb, sealed the tomb with a stone and walked away.
That is the end of the story. Joseph believe it to be so. Mary and the rest of the women agreed. The disciples scattered, were scared, and could not think of how there possibly could be any hope. The world was cold. The world was dark. The world had lost all hope. They went back to their homes, back to their families and huddled together in the hopeless cold darkness and believe this was really the end. There was nothing to look forward to. Nothing to pray for. There was only despair.
And we have to walk with the disciples, we have to walk with the women, we need to walk away from a cold, limp body sealed in the darkness of a tomb, behind a big gray stone and believe with them that all is lost. We need to be there with them. Right now; this week; sit with them, feel with them. Understand the darkness, understand the forsakenness. Understand, really and truly that our God died. The world was upended. Black was white, day was night. The world shook, rocks broke open, curtains were torn, and all creation threatened to be undone. God died. The messiah, Jesus Christ, the hope of all nations, the bringer of new life, the fulfillment of time ,died. “My God my God, why have you forsaken me!” the cry of all humanity, the cry of all creation is heard screaming through the air, heard in the rocks, heard in the sky, heard in the silence of the grave. It rang out Friday night, it was whispered on the wind all day Saturday, it rung through the darkness of Saturday night and it threatened to be the final word. The end. Humanity forsaken, God dead.
Not a pleasant place to be. But that is where we are. We live daily in the death, daily in the forsakenness. We live daily in a world which seems absolutely and utterly godless. We need to understand the reality of the sacrifice which was made. This is the week for us to come to terms once again or for the first time with the darkness and hopelessness of what the death of Christ means. We walk with Jesus this week toward death. We walk with the disciples toward abandonment and hopelessness. We walk away with Joeseph away from a cold dark tomb containing our dead messiah and see the darkness around, feel the world as it really truly is and wait huddled together. Wait and mourn and cry. Our God died.
So let us commemorate together the end of our Messiah’s life, walk with him and his disciples to the last meal shared together on Thursday. Watch as Peter denies him, as he is handed over to one earthly ruler and then another, finally beaten mocked, and hung on a cross, and then died. Let us watch as they put him in the grave, seal the tomb and walk away, walk away as the earth shakes, and darkness surrounds, and feel what they felt, know only what they knew and wait as they waited with no celebration to look forward to.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Finding Jesus (a Lenten series): When There is No Hope

John 11:1-45
There is a Christian cartoon series called Veggie Tales. I know my girls are way past the “veggie tales” stage of life, but to tell you the truth, I am actually going back to my sophomore year of college when Veggie Tales was brand new. Their very first video was called, “Where is God when I am scared?” It was about a little asparagus boy, who is frightened by a scary movie he watches, and wants to know where God is when he is scared. So begins what is fairly well done and quite adorable vegetable oriented show.
Although scripture labels this passage, the “Raising of Lazarus,” or “Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead,” I think it is more aptly called, “Where is God when I am sad?” Or perhaps, “Where is God when I am hurting?” Jesus is not there when the sisters need him most. He tarries and delays, explaining that, “This will not end in death.” Jesus equivocates just a little bit here. Although this story does not end with death, Lazarus for sure dies. He dies and is dead for four whole days. There is no coming back from that.
Lazarus is dead and Jesus is nowhere to be found. Where is Jesus when they need him? A two days journey away, making plans to journey in the opposite direction. Choosing to go someplace he is not even wanted, where they are threatening to kill, him instead of going to be with his dear friends in their time of need. These women lose their brother and Jesus is wanting to traveling anywhere but to go see them. Where is Jesus when they are sad? Not there, not with them. These two women NEED Jesus, they want to encounter Jesus, but it seems that Jesus is refusing to be there.
By the time Jesus’ journeying brings him to Bethany, there is no hope. People at this time believed that the “soul” lingered around the body for three days. During these three days it was possible they might be revived. For three days, there is hope, even if it is just a faint one. But after four days, nothing could be done. After four days the person was really and truly and forever gone. These women have come to the place where there is no longer any hope and Jesus is nowhere to be found. Where is he? How can they find him now? What is even point of finding him? There is no hope. All is lost.
The women are in the depths of despair. There is nothing to be done. All hope is lost and Jesus is still not there. Four days and he is finally within reach, they hear that he is coming this way. He is approaching town. Martha, and then later Mary run out to him while he is still outside of town. “Where have you been?” “We needed you!” “If you would have been hear this would not have happened.” “You could have stopped this from happening!”
Their pleas are honest and raw. They are real things that real people say. They are not worried about saying the “right thing” to Jesus. They are not holding back at all. This is not some white washed children's Sunday school story, where all the bad, scary and sad parts are left out. These women come out to see Jesus and lay the hurt, the pain and the betrayal, all the ways they really feel at his feet.
We are these women. We understand their cries. We understand their hurt. We know the place from which their pain, hurt and grief come. How many times have we thought these very words, even when we dared not say them out loud? How many times have we at the very least wanted cry out to God with these very words, even when did not have the courage to do so? “Where were you, God?” “Where are you?” “If you would have been here . . .!” “You could have stopped this from happening!” “Out of the depths I cry to you, Oh Lord!” “My God, My God why have your forsaken me?” Ok, that was not Mary or Martha, that was the Psalmist, but my point is the same. When we feel this way, when we have these questions, when these are the cries of our hearts, we are in good company. Mary and Martha, these women whom, the scripture tell us, Jesus loved, and David, the man declared to be “a man after God’s own heart,” they feel this way. So I think that perhaps it is ok to feel this way. It is ok to question God this way. Their cries, our cries, are not unreasonable.
Jesus was not there when they wanted him. He did not do, or act in the way they thought he could. They felt alone, abandoned by their Savior. He was simply not there for them and something terrible happened, something terrible he had the power to stop. Jesus could have done something; it could have not come to this!
So many things God could have stopped from happening, so many hurts in our lives, so much pain in the lives of those around us, so much injustice in the world. But it happens. God does not stop it. And we live with the consequences, the pain, the sorrow, the grief.
But the story does not end there. Mary and Martha are not left alone where they are. Each woman comes to Jesus in their hurt and their grief and says almost the same thing. We are these women. We know their pain. We know their hurt. They give voice to our thoughts and our feelings.
When Martha speaks, she does not stop. She continues, even though she feels hurt and abandoned by her Lord. She still reaches into herself and continues to express faith in his actions and his abilities, saying, “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” She might not know what Jesus is going to ask of God, she might not even dare hope that there is anything to be done, but she still trusts him. This is the hard place to get to. Even when we feel alone, even when we feel abandoned by our Savior and our God, even when we are in the deepest darkest place of grief and sorrow, hurt and pain, to seek and find God. Even as we give voice to the way we feel, to still trust, to still have the tiny shred of faith that says, “I know that God can still act.” “I know that something can still be done.”
Because of her faith, because of her trust, Jesus is able to build on that faith. He talks to her not only about the miracle he is about to perform, but also the truth of the resurrection that is to come. He gives hint to his own, but also gives voice to the resurrection that can be found in him. He gives hope for a life that is to come, a life that one day will be. He reminds her that death will not have the final word, that death will not hold victory; not over him, not over her, not over anyone who find life in him. In fact, we include these words, which Jesus speaks to Martha, in our funeral service, “I am the resurrection and the Life, those who believe in me, even though they die will live.” There is a new kind of hope, which is above and beyond the hope of a healing, a miracle, or being raised, in the here and now, from the dead, only to die again. There is a deeper, more profound hope. And because of Martha’s tiny seed of faith, she is given more, to add to that which she already has.
But we all are not Martha; many times we find that we simply cannot be Martha. We find ourselves to be more like Mary, hurt, torn and overcome with our grief. We turn our hurt filled eyes upon Jesus and cannot find it within us to even dare to trust. There is no hope to be found. We simply are unable to join Martha in her declaration of faith. We cannot see how Jesus can make this better. What can God do now? Our hurt and our grief are real. There are times when we are Mary, raw, hurting, and crying out to God, from a dark place in our lives. Jesus finds Mary in this place of hurt and sorrow.
Scripture says Jesus saw Mary and those who were with her weeping. And what happens next is important. Mary cries out to Jesus in her hurt and pain and then Jesus sees that she is weeping. Jesus does not chastise Mary for not being like her sister. She is not told to hope, or have faith. Jesus sees her grief, her sorrow, the pain which has brought her to his feet. She sits there weeping, those who are with her are likewise distraught, caught up in the pain and sorrow that comes with such deep tragedies as death. Jesus sees her there and hears her cry of pain and he begins to cry with her. Where is Jesus in her grief? Where is Jesus in her pain, in her sorrow? He is right there with her. He is greatly disturbed and deeply moved. She is crying, everyone there is crying and Jesus joins them in their sorrow and their grief.
What he is about to do does not negate their grief. The hope in the resurrection to come does not nullify the pain they now feel. Jesus does not seek to find the right words that will wash away their pain. He does not find a tried and true platitude with which he can erase the sorrow they now know. He joins them. He knows them in their grief. He is there with them. He also loved Lazarus. His friend is dead. His dear sisters are in pain. Jesus feels all this, he knows all this. He is not immune to the pain and sorrow all around. He is not untouched. He grieves too. He hurts with them. This I not a moment for moral platitudes or words to make things better, the only thing to be done, is to stop, to join them, and to grieve alongside them.
Where can you find Jesus when you are sad? In depths of your deepest sorrow, in the middle of your darkest valley, right there beside you, hurting along with you. Grieving. In pain. Crying.
By the time we even get to Lazarus, we have gone 40 verses with Jesus, with Mary and Martha. By the time Jesus says, “Lazarus come out,” we have already seen Jesus in all his humanity. We have seen Jesus at his most theological. Jesus has already given us hope in the resurrection to come and has demonstrated the only truly loving response when met with the grief we find in this world, is to join with the grieving. But Lazarus gets the top billing. The story is called “Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. This is story does end with Lazarus being raised from the dead.
Before this long chapter closes, Jesus demonstrates his power, over even death. Jesus calls to Lazarus beyond the one-way-veil and does the impossible, brings Lazarus back to the land of the living, when such a thing is beyond all hope. In an act of utter compassion, in response to the grief and pain exhibited by these sisters and in what is, quite possibly, the culminating sign of his divinity, Jesus brings Lazarus back from the dead. And we leave with the image of his sisters and his loved ones unbinding him, in what we can only assume is unimaginable joy.
The miracle at the end of this chapter might get top billing  but this passage is not ultimately about him, it is about these two women; two women hurting women. Jesus meets them where they are in their place of loss and despair. When they find Jesus they are beyond hope. There is nothing left to call out for Jesus to do. And Jesus meets them there. Jesus joins them there.
In this passage we not only see the ultimate sign of Jesus' true divinity, but we also see Jesus in all his humanity, standing next to these two women who are his friends, whom he loves very much, outside of the tomb of their brother Lazarus who is so very dear not only to them but also to him. We see him there with them weeping.

“Jesus wept,” it is one of those verses we memorize, as a child in Sunday School, but it is also an important verse in scripture, a verse that reminds us, throughout our lives, that when we find ourselves, like these women, hurting beyond all hurt, that no matter what it seems, no matter how we feel, when we begin to ask ourselves, “where is Jesus now,” we can know that Jesus is right there with us in our sorrow. Jesus is right there with us in our grief. Where is Jesus when I am sad? He is outside the tomb of our lost hope, weeping with us.