“Lazarus died and he was Jesus’ buddy,” says Samuel, 5.
We don’t often think of Jesus as having buddies or friends, but he did. From the story in John 11 where a crying Mary meets Jesus to tell him that he could have prevented her brother from dying, we have the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept,” (John 11:35).
“Since Jesus was human, he had human feelings,” says Savannah, 11. “Jesus wept when Lazarus died. Jesus can weep with us.
“When we have problems, Jesus doesn’t guide us around the problems. He goes through them with us. Jesus can weep with us or he can weep when we sin. Jesus loves us no matter what.”
Yes, Jesus loves us no matter what! In a world where reciprocal love is the norm, God’s one-way love is so counterintuitive.
A lot of people think about Jesus in the same way they think about karma. If we obey him, he loves us. If we disobey, he doesn’t love us. What goes around, comes around, right? WRONG!
What goes around is our sin and rebellion against God. What comes around is not the death and separation from God that we deserve. What comes around is God’s grace in offering to us what we do not deserve or earn: eternal life by faith alone in Christ alone.
“Grace and peace” is the way the Apostle Paul starts almost all his New Testament epistles. “Grace is the root of our salvation and peace is the fruit,” said author Tullian Tchvidjian. When Christians walk in the one-way love (grace) that brought them into God’s family, they enjoy God’s peace. They stop looking to people for affirmation of their value.
Instead of self-esteem, it’s God-esteem. What God thinks about you is much more important than people’s changing opinions. All Christians possess a righteousness that is not their own, the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
When Christians receive their value from God, they’re free to give to others without expecting anything in return. Even though all Christians are eternally secure as God’s children, they fail to experience God’s peace when they revert to trying to earn God’s love. Jesus weeps when we try to earn what he gives us freely.
“Jesus was sad because in Romans 12:15, it says, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep,’” says Almea, 11. “Jesus was crying with Mary because he was weeping with those who weep.”
Thank God that we have a compassionate savior! Speaking of the ascended Christ who is on his heavenly throne and praying for his people, the Bible tells us: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin,” (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus empathizes with our suffering. He suffered more than anyone. The prophet Isaiah predicted that the messiah would be a “man of sorrows” who “carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3-4). We do not have a dispassionate God who can’t understand our suffering.
Even though Jesus knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead, he wept with Mary. He entered into her sorrow over the death of her brother.
Think about this: Jesus knows our sorrows because he carried them during his ministry and especially on the cross.
Memorize this truth: Hebrews 4:15 previously quoted.
Ask these questions: Are you rejoicing with those who have experienced the liberty of God’s one-way love? Are you weeping over those who are still trying to gain God’s favor by their own efforts?
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Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
COPYRIGHT 2006 CAREY KINSOLVING