Rolling The Stone Away From Our Hearts (John 11:32-44)

But when Jesus weeps, his tears show us that it’s never too late for compassion.


“Then Jesus began to weep.”

Jesus weeps with all of us.

On All Saints Day, we remember our loved ones who have gone on before us. In some ways, this past year has been one of extraordinary loss. Covid-19 and other diseases have robbed us of beloved friends and family members. This pandemic has also taken some of our sense of normalcy and security. It has been hard, and Jesus mourns with us in our loss.

Jesus also wept for Lazarus.

When Jesus arrives at the home of Lazarus’ sisters, Mary says to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” It’s a poignant statement of faith and blame and heartbreak… and it’s probably true. Jesus had been told of Lazarus’ illness days before, but he had taken his time getting there.

Was there remorse mingled with Jesus’ heartbreak when he saw how devastated Mary and Martha were? Perhaps. Whenever scripture leaves us wondering if there had been a more compassionate path to take, that’s the Holy Spirit guiding us. I think it’s good to question even Jesus sometimes.

But when Jesus weeps, his tears show us that it’s never too late for compassion. I wonder, are tears part of the miracle? Could Jesus have raised Lazarus from the dead if he had not first wept for him? I don’t know.

One thing we can know is that Jesus’ tears helped raise Mary and Martha from the dead. To see compassion to the point of tears in one’s hour of despair is a great, healing comfort. Jesus showed his love not just for Lazarus, but for Mary and Martha too, in that moment, and that probably helped them to carry on. That probably helped roll the stone of grief away from their hearts even as the stone was rolled away from Lazarus’ tomb.

When we suffer loss and grief, it can feel like a stone is sitting on our hearts too. Despair can crush and numb us, making us feel like we aren’t worth while. This passage shows us that even when things feel too late, it is never too late for compassion. It is never too late to help roll the stone away from someone’s heart. In reaching out to others in their time of pain, even if all we can do is weep with them, we participate in little, daily resurrections. Every day, we have opportunities to give each other hope. Every day, we can follow Jesus in rolling away the stones and helping people walk through the miniature deaths of despair back into life.

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, but Lazarus still lives in a dangerous world where he will die again. Jesus raises us back to life again and again not to escape the risks and challenges of this world, but to face them, and to follow him in infusing more compassion so that our small deaths can be transformed into deeper, richer, more abundant life.

The Olive

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Lindsey and Adam talk about why grief and compassion — co-suffering with the vulnerable — are necessary for the transformative work we are called to do as we follow All Saints Episode of Jesus Unmasked. We also lift up our prayers for those who have died who are on our hearts and minds, and affirm that we are connected to them in the embrace of Love which bridges life and death. Join the conversation every Wednesday, live, at 11 am CT/ 9 am PT on the Raven Foundation Facebook page.