It’s Time to Know the Time
In John Chapter11 we read about a powerful incident in the life of Jesus when He was here on earth. This happened at or around the house of Lazarus. Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters send Jesus a message, “Lord, behold, He whom you love is sick.” (John 11:3). Notice the words… ‘Whom you love’.
Jesus often stayed at Bethany in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus when He was in Judea. He and the family had become close. Close and loyal friendship was something important to Jesus. He often talked about it. In fact, Jesus later uses the term ‘our friend’ to describe Lazarus (John 11:11).
We read again in the same passage…“When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her, also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit, and was troubled, and said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said, ‘Lord, Come and see.’ Jesus wept. And so the Jews were saying, ‘Behold, how He loved Him!” (John 11:33-36).
In His heart Jesus already knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead. But when I read the words… “He was deeply moved in spirit” and next I read, “He was troubled” and then the Bible says emphatically…“Jesus wept”, I am have come to an understanding deep in my own spirit.
First, there was His great sense of compassion. Jesus hurt in Himself to see others hurt. At this time His emotions were pushed to the limit by witnessing the sorrow of Martha and Mary. Losing a brother was a great loss to these two women. In NT times perhaps there was no breadwinner left! And Jesus lost a dear friend! But there is one thing I am sure of…Jesus identifies with our hurts and our loss whatever it may be.
Secondly, death is the consequence of sin. Shortly, Jesus would be dying on the cross to release us from the sting of death, which is sin (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). But sin is ugly, and the suffering caused by sin is enormous. Sin is something to cry about!
When did you cry last, asking God to deal with sin in your life? When last did you have compassion to ‘weep with those who weep’? Some questions need to be answered, especially in the times we live in.
If we look in the Bible there were many men who wept. Jeremiah, known as ‘the weeping prophet,’ wrote, “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people” (Jeremiah 9:1).
Listen to David…“All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears,” he writes in Psalms. And later, “My tears have been my food day and night.”
Even Paul was not afraid to share his feelings openly. He said, “I served the Lord with great humility and with tears…” (Acts 20:19)
Some years ago I was in the UK, meeting with several famous worship leaders. We sat around a table and as we shared our hearts and one thing emerged very clearly. ‘The Church has forgotten to weep’. Somewhere deep inside our hearts have been hardened and we have lost our ability to sorrow both for our sin as well as the sin of the people around us.
Now wait a minute! I am not talking of weepy people or weepy services on Sunday mornings. You will notice that, men and women of strong faith experiences sorrow, but not so much that their life is ruined by that. People of faith also experience joy at the proper time, but not to the extent, nor in the sense of laughing and joking so that the serious things in life are treated without reverence.
Look at what Ecclesiastes says, “…there is a time for everything under heaven; A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing. A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep, and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-9).
When we balance our lives in maturity others can learn lessons from the output of our very lives. Look at John 11 again…“Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you, if you believe you will see the glory of God?’ And so, they removed the stone. And Jesus raised up His eyes, and said, ‘Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always; but because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me.’ And when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth.’ He who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings…” (John 11:40-44).
The Scriptures not only speak of Jesus’ sorrow, but also of His joy. Following His death and resurrection, Jesus spoke of the apostles’ “sorrow turned into joy” when they would learn that Jesus was alive again and said to them that “no one takes away your joy from you.” (John 16:20-22). Later on, when facing the pain of persecution, the apostles would still rejoice (Acts 5:41,42).
So get to know the time. There are times when tears become a prayer. There are times when laughter becomes strength. Both are needed in good doses, and I have learned to walk in both dimensions, and as a man of God I am not ashamed of those times!