This morning as I was going through my daily study of the word, I was in John 11.
John 11:33 – He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
John 11:35: – He wept
Why would a man/God who is all-powerful, all-knowing groan in the spirit, be troubled and weep? You only weep when you are hurt in the soul and cry when you are in pain. What was so special about Lazarus? Why Lazarus? The Bible does not tell much about him, yet by the way Mary and Martha respond to his death, and many of the Jews, it does seem like Lazarus was very dear and seemed to have had a great impact on the people around him. And based on the reaction from Jesus, it does seem Jesus had some personal affection towards him. These are good questions from a mere human point of view. Allow me to try and get into Jesus’ head and maybe see from his point of view. Mind you I am trying to comprehend the sovereign God’s mind. It seems blasphemous to even consider it, because I will never understand it. Yet, from what is said about Jesus and what we see through the eyes and the words of the Bible, there is much to be inferred. Jesus, the Son of God was about his Father’s business. All he did was talk about his Father. There was nothing that brought him more joy, but conveying and carrying out His Father’s mission on earth, in particular redeeming God’s most coveted creation, man, back to Himself. The only time Jesus grieved ‘of the Spirit’ throughout the Bible is when He feared the loss of connection with his Father. It was excruciating. It is unfathomable by a mere sinner like me. That broken connection with His Father was a very lonely and scary place for Him. Yet, that is the place He had to go to [take on] experience the condition of a sinful man to comprehend [propitiate] the impact of sin and its separation from the one triune God. In the case of Lazarus, to do what he was about to do, he had to come face-to-face with death. Which meant to be in a place of sin, which caused death, which means it would break his communion with his Father. Lazarus was dead and in order to bring him back to life, He had to go to a place that He is fearful (fear of God). To go, the price is that he will have to let go His connection with His Father. Yet, he loved the sinner Lazarus immensely, the mission was clear, that not one should perish(Matthew 18:14). Perhaps He knew Lazarus was not a redeemed soul and so He needed to give him a second chance(John 5:28)? Whatever the reasons were, Jesus needed to go into a place of death, a place of sin, with the direct cost of Him losing his connection with His Father. The same was when he sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and eventually on the cross, the excruciating pain he suffered, not physical, but the separation from His father; a very lonely, terrifying place. The lengths He went to be obedient to his Father, and stay on a mission that His Father entrusted in Him, for me, as a mere human being and a sinner, I will never be able to fathom. Yet from that dark place, he brings forth Lazarus to life. Such is the love of God poured through his son, Jesus, to a sinner like Lazarus.
Yesterday I witnessed a retirement and a farewell of a sporting icon of magnanimous proportions of a cricketer by the name of Sachin Tendulkar. I am a big fan of his from a cricketing sense, and though he holds every record one can imagine, and I do have a great appreciation of what a wonderful human being he is. He is a man of good works who has had an amazing career of 24 years in a sport that the best did not last for half that time, and that too without any scandals or any major injuries. His influence over a billion people and many around the world is quite amazing. He is revered as ‘god’ in India and by many around the world. His farewell speech was everything that moved me, made me tearful and proud of a fellow Indian. It made my admiration of him even more real. He showed tremendous reverence of parents, friends, coaches, family, community and an amazing sense of humility that he was able to portray throughout his life as well as a deep thankfulness to god (an unknown god). Every Athlete across sports and countries can learn from his example. It made me feel proud as an Indian-born American. Yet my mind brought a thought to me: Does he know Jesus and the finished work of the cross? With the possibility of fellow Tendulkar fans out there putting a bullet in my head, I say this: As great as he was, as the best possible human being that he is, and I admire all of that, does he know if he is going to hell or heaven?. The Bible says the only way to heaven is through His son Jesus (John 14:6). It is the same question and conclusion I had to come with my mother (See my hinduism to Christ article). It grieves me to write, as I admire and love both of them, though I know my mother more intimately. I do not know the answer in both of these scenarios, but I am convinced every one of us has to face these questions: Who is Jesus? Is He the son of God? Is He God? Is He the only way to heaven? It doesn’t matter what we accomplish in our life, how great we become in the world’s eyes, these questions are more important than the accomplishments that we have in this world. It doesn’t matter what we debate amongst ourselves around these questions, because in the end it better be the right answer to God, and it is between the individual and God. In His infinite mercy He has revealed these answers in the word of God, called the Bible, and has shown His love and inclination to restore us with what he did with Lazarus, and ultimately on the cross. We too have lost this connection with God and are incapable of restoring it with our good works. Sin was the cause of this and hell was created for Satan and his cohorts. With un-reconciled sin we cannot have communion with God. The wages of sin is death. Jesus died on the cross on our behalf and conquered death to restore the connection back with God.
Will you, my reader ask these questions: What if the Bible is right and the world is wrong? It could mean the difference between seeing the face of God or thrust into hell which should be no place for God’s most coveted creation. John 3:16.
–thank you, Venkat