“Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at the tomb.” John 11:38
Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, was gravely ill, and they called for Jesus to come. By the time he arrived, Lazarus, had been dead for four days. Both Mary and Martha separately confronted Jesus, “If only you had been here …” They believed with all their hearts Jesus could heal their beloved brother. Now they mourned, and Jesus mourned with them.
But what about the anger of Jesus? When I read this story, I first thought Jesus had misappropriated anger for frustration or disappointment. But in reality, Jesus hated death as much as we do. Yet, he understood death to be part of life—the completion of the life cycle on Earth. However, that isn’t comforting at the time of loss—death is permanent. Death means living with the absence of someone we love. Through Jesus’ anger of death, he brought Lazarus back to life. This incident resonates with us as we move through Holy Week—the undeserving prosecution, death, the mourning of all who loved Jesus, and the great joy of the defeat of death.
The story of Lazarus made me rethink how I respond to someone who has lost a loved one. Jesus angered for a brief time over his loss and that of his friends, so that’s okay for me, too. He accompanied Mary and Martha in their deep pain and just did not send a sympathy card, flowers, or a little cash in memory of their brother. I need to improve on this.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of tears that wipe away the anger of lose. Amen.