When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”When Jesus arrived at Larazus' tomb, he already knew what he was going to do. He knew that he had power over death. He knew that he was about to call his friend forth from the grave, despite the fact that Lazarus had been dead for four days. He knew that before too long, he himself would rise from the dead, defeating the greatest enemy of humankind forever. And yet, he was "deeply moved in spirit and troubled". What does that mean?
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. (John 11:32-33)
Today, I was face to face with the enemy - death - as well. It had claimed the life a friend, one much too young. It was hard - is hard - to understand why creation is like this. A vibrant, energetic young lady nearing there end of her college career, with her whole life ahead of her suddenly discovers a serious illness....and then is gone. In fact, this is the main reason I have not blogged for over a week. I told a friend Wednesday that I was not ready to write about this, and yet everything else seemed so trivial by comparison. Which left nothing.
It's not the first time death has punched me in the gut. My sister, my niece, my mother...as well as uncles, aunts, and grandparents. This enemy never seems to rest.
So, back to the question. What does it mean that Jesus was "deeply moved and troubled in spirit"? Well, according to a commentary I just read, the Greek verb is ejnebrimhvsato, and it indicates a very strong emotion and is difficult to translate. In fact, here is what it says about the phrase:
Jesus displayed this reaction to the afflicted in Mark 1:43, Matt 9:30. Was he angry at the afflicted? No, but he was angry because he found himself face-to-face with the manifestations of Satan’s kingdom of evil. Here, the realm of Satan was represented by death.Angry. Furious. Beside himself with indignation because death is not the way things should be. It's not! How do we know? Because when the Creator of the universe visited our planet, it made him deeply angry.
So as I sat in my pew today, and as I've prayed all week for my friend Addy's family, I have been troubled. Because this is not the way things are supposed to be - we should never lose sight of that. Jesus was angry about it and grieved in his spirit, even though he knew he was about to defeat it. We hurt. We grieve. And we are wounded.
But I was also comforted. Because the last enemy, death, has been defeated. Because as a follower of Jesus, Addy has taken her place with other saints beside the angels in heaven worshipping God. Because she is with her friend Holly rejoicing. Because Jesus' death was the death of death. It's over!
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)
Amen. Take that, death...you lose.