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“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
― Woody Allen
“I’m not afraid of death because I don’t believe in it.
It’s just getting out of one car, and into another”
― John Lennon
It is interesting to see how people think and react differently to death. In this passage we see a lot of different reactions to the death of Lazarus.
Thomas – v. 16 – Thomas certainly does not seem concerned about dying. He is ready to go and “die with him.” Thomas kind of gets a bad rep as a doubter. He actually seems to have a boldness about his faith and is ready to follow Jesus anywhere.
Martha – v.21 – With Martha there seems to be some disappointment coupled with hope. I see this kind of reaction quite a bit among believers. There are the questions that often come up like “Why did God not do something?” or “Why did God let this happen?’ – But then the questions are coupled with a confidence that they know the one who died is with God and in a better place.
Mary – v.32 – Mary is emotionally torn up. She is experiencing deep grief – so much so that it overshadows her faith and hope at this point. I also see this among believers. It is not that they have lost faith, it is just that they are so overwhelmed with grief and it will take some time for them to recognize that God is still in control.
“Some of them” – v.37 – Some of them seem angry and are looking for someone to blame. This is a fairly typical reaction from unbelievers. Especially those who believe in God but don’t have an authentic relationship with Him. They want to lash out at someone and God seems an easy target.
Jesus – vs.4, 33-36 – Jesus has several different kinds of reactions. First we see that He does not seem overly concerned even though He knew that Lazarus was going to die. His confidence was rooted in God and He knew that God was in control and would bring glory to Himself even through the death of one who loved Him. But then we see real genuine grief. “Jesus wept.” I think He was grieving for several reasons:
- He hurt for those who were hurting. His friends were sad and missed their brother and their tears moved Him to tears.
- But also He grieved over the consequences of living in a fallen world. He hated what he saw sin had done to destroy God’s “very good” creation. He knew the way God had intended it to be and it was painful to see it otherwise.
I would hope that my reaction would be more like Jesus. But as I look at this passage I think it is more often like Martha. My faith is not shaken by death but there are often questions that creep into my mind. What about you? How do you react to the death of a loved one?
Father, thank You that You are indeed “the resurrection and the life” and that in You I can have complete confidence that You are in control of both of life and of death.
Next Week’s Passage: John 11:45-57