Today’s Our Daily Bread shared Jesus’ grief when his friend Lazarus died. Wouldn’t you think that Jesus’ foreknowledge of Lazarus’ death, and his resurrection, would have shielded Jesus from this death’s emotional impact? Why, then, did Jesus, the Author of life, weep at Lazarus’ grave?
I think Jesus felt this intense grief because he is the Author of life. What mixed feelings the Creator must have felt when he breathed into Adam the breath of life, knowing even then that his beloved creature would sin and have to die. But he also knew that not only Adam and his descendants would suffer death; the Word’s plan of salvation required that even the man he would one day become, the virgin-born Jesus of Nazareth, would pay the ultimate price for sin he would never commit.
Life is God’s love-gift. Because God is love, he created mankind in his image so he could bless us through fellowship with himself. When we see someone holding a conversation with their reflection, we assume they’re bonkers. And even more so if they kiss and caress their reflection. Since God isn’t crazy, he has no use for a simple reflection of himself, so he gave us the one divine attribute that makes us unique: personal volition, or free choice. But without alternatives, there is no choice. So God issued just one Executive Order: Do not eat of the tree in the garden’s center, or even go near it. History tells the tale of their choice through endless accounts of mayhem, much of it committed in the name of religion. If that’s not the definition of irony, what is?
Death is the great, sin-born tragedy that rains down on the just and the unjust. We all pay that price because we all share the guilt. But God’s Word speaks of a second death, that makes our inevitable physical death seem like a small thing.
For those who faithfully follow Christ, having realized their depravity, begged his forgiveness from a contrite heart, and repented of their self-centered lives, physical death is indeed a small thing; it’s just the doorway to eternity with God, where we will fully enjoy the divine fellowship for which he created us.