He did a miracle for His mom when she asked to make more wine at a wedding. He healed the son of a nobleman, when the nobleman asked for Jesus' help. Time after time, when asked, Jesus said, "Yes, I will help you." But, when a family whom Jesus knew so well asked for Jesus to come to the aid of their extremely sick and dying brother, Jesus stayed where He was doing His ministry. Why?
Was it because Jesus wanted to show the world how deeply He cares about everyone who suffers and dies? The shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, "Jesus wept." But, the longer verse that clearly shows how this deeply affected Jesus is verse 33. "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and greatly troubled." This first emotion, "deeply moved," is a word of rebuke or warning. The other emotion,"greatly troubled," is a word that means being shaken. Emotions are very hard to define. We see Jesus feel a complexity of emotion over the pain, suffering and death of Lazarus and how his family responded to Jesus arriving late.
As we suffer, Jesus suffers. As we weep, Jesus weeps. We are His divine masterpieces. We are His beloved children. He is our Heavenly Father. He cares for us more than we care about ourselves.
In John 11, we see three times that refers to Jesus' love for this family. Mary's response to Jesus love was to anoint and wash His feet with her hair. The sisters described their sick brother as the"one whom you love." Then the Bible just says clearly in v 5, "Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus."
This love is a love that is very difficult for us American-culturalized Christians to grasp. Isn't love taking away our pain? Isn't love removing our suffering? Isn't love a quick fix?
Paul suffered with an affliction. He asked God numerous times to heal him of this suffering. God responded to Paul's request, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I am amazed at Paul's response to God's answer of "no" to his prayers. Paul said, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Cor 12:9-10
As I saw our friend, John Mark Andrew, during his suffering with cancer and all the drugs, I saw Jesus' power in his weakness. I saw the joy of Christ beaming out of him in the midst of his pain. I saw the love of Jesus as he always wanted an update about his church family, Southtown Baptist Church. I saw the love for Jesus and His Word with John's desire to Facetime Sunday morning worship. John would text me, "Don't forget to email the sermon notes." I saw what matters most in life when I shared about a woman accepting Jesus as her Lord and Savior at Easter. I shared, "That was kind of fun." John corrected me, "Kind of fun?.. that is what it is all about."
Every time the world thinks about Lazarus, we think of the love, the power of Jesus. Every time I think about John Andrew, I think about the presence of Jesus. Not because John was so saintly and awesome, no person is. But, because John loved Jesus and invited Jesus into each step of his cancer, sickness, pain and suffering.
John was a man who loved Jesus, his wife, his children and grandchildren. He loved people. He was a great church member who served, who cared for members, who welcomed and invited the guests to become part of God's family, who interceded, who shared tough love in a gentle manner, who showed compassion and protection to people who were hurting, who celebrated when the lost were found, when the proud confessed their need, when sinners called out to Jesus, the only Savior.
Now, John is with Jesus.
Jesus described His Kingdom in Luke 6:21, "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh."
Jesus clearly communicated that His Kingdom is about being totally satisfied; satisfied like coming home as well as satisfied like going on an adventure. He clearly shared that His Kingdom is a place of laughter, fun, enjoyment and joy.
When we think of John, it is not hard to see him laughing with Jesus and so many loved ones including Joyleigh, his granddaughter. It is not hard to imagine them deeply satisfied and enjoying the company of Jesus, the Bright Morning Star, the author and perfecter of our faith, the Lion and the Lamb, the Healer,the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Alpha and Omega.
God, thanks for Your presence in the midst of sickness, suffering and death. Thanks for Your promise of everlasting life in Your family as beloved children. Give us your comfort, peace and strength. You are the best!