Jesus: Empathetic Friend

Corrected Empathetic Friend

Jesus: Empathetic Friend

December 19, 2019

I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.– Walt Whitman

Last week, my family and I attended the memorial service of a dear friend. When we first moved to Nevada, she welcomed me into our new church family. We lived in the same neighborhood and watched our sons grow up together. Although later our lives took different directions and we drifted apart, she always held a special place in my heart.

As I greeted her husband and sons at the service, my heart ached to see the pain etched in their faces. My own eyes filled with tears. But my sorrow was not for my friend. Reunited with her Savior, she no longer suffers. I hurt for the ones left behind.

As I sat in the service, I remembered one of the most endearing snapshots I took of Jesus during my early days of studying the Bible.

Like me, Jesus attended the funeral service of Lazarus, one of His friends. When He arrived and witnessed the raw emotion of the two sisters of Lazarus and their friends, He also became deeply moved: 

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept. (John 11:33-35 NIV)

Cited as the shortest verse in the Bible, verse 35 conveys a powerful message. The word used here for weep, dakrýō, means to weep silently with tears. To describe the weeping of the mourners, John used the word klaíō, which means to express uncontainable, audible grief. 

Like me, Jesus’ tears were not for Lazarus. He planned to raise him from the dead. When He learned of His friend’s illness, Jesus deliberately waited two extra days before making the trip to visit him. By so doing, Lazarus’ death would bring glory to God. (John 11:4).

But knowing the end of the story did not make Jesus callous to the pain of the people. He hurt because they hurt. 

Until I read this passage, I still perceived God as lawmaker and judge. To be sure, I no longer saw Him as arbitrary and harsh. But this snapshot of Jesus’ empathy shifted my thinking even more.

Our Lord is not a benevolent dictator; He is an empathetic friend. 

Jesus’ empathy did not prevent Him for allowing Lazarus to die. He understood the Father had a greater purpose, even though it caused pain for a brief time. 

The miracle of Lazarus glorified the Lord with more force than a simple healing. Jesus revealed His power over death, leaving a message of hope for all of us. Although initially they felt pain, both sisters grew in their faith as they witnessed His power.

Whenever I go through painful moments, I realize Jesus hurts with me. He doesn’t chide me for my pain, or express disappointment with my faith struggle. He also loves me enough to let me hurt, because He understands His purpose behind my pain. He knows the end of my story.

As I continue down the road, I pray to keep my eyes fastened on the One who empathizes with my pain. Wherever you are in your journey, I pray the same for you. 

 

Jesus: Empathetic Friend

December 19, 2019

Corrected Empathetic Friend

I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.– Walt Whitman

Last week, my family and I attended the memorial service of a dear friend. When we first moved to Nevada, she welcomed me into our new church family. We lived in the same neighborhood and watched our sons grow up together. Although later our lives took different directions and we drifted apart, she always held a special place in my heart.

As I greeted her husband and sons at the service, my heart ached to see the pain etched in their faces. My own eyes filled with tears. But my sorrow was not for my friend. Reunited with her Savior, she no longer suffers. I hurt for the ones left behind.

As I sat in the service, I remembered one of the most endearing snapshots I took of Jesus during my early days of studying the Bible.

Like me, Jesus attended the funeral service of Lazarus, one of His friends. When He arrived and witnessed the raw emotion of the two sisters of Lazarus and their friends, He also became deeply moved: 

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept. (John 11:33-35 NIV)

Cited as the shortest verse in the Bible, verse 35 conveys a powerful message. The word used here for weep, dakrýō, means to weep silently with tears. To describe the weeping of the mourners, John used the word klaíō, which means to express uncontainable, audible grief. 

Like me, Jesus’ tears were not for Lazarus. He planned to raise him from the dead. When He learned of His friend’s illness, Jesus deliberately waited two extra days before making the trip to visit him. By so doing, Lazarus’ death would bring glory to God. (John 11:4).

But knowing the end of the story did not make Jesus callous to the pain of the people. He hurt because they hurt. 

Until I read this passage, I still perceived God as lawmaker and judge. To be sure, I no longer saw Him as arbitrary and harsh. But this snapshot of Jesus’ empathy shifted my thinking even more.

Our Lord is not a benevolent dictator; He is an empathetic friend. 

Jesus’ empathy did not prevent Him for allowing Lazarus to die. He understood the Father had a greater purpose, even though it caused pain for a brief time. 

The miracle of Lazarus glorified the Lord with more force than a simple healing. Jesus revealed His power over death, leaving a message of hope for all of us. Although initially they felt pain, both sisters grew in their faith as they witnessed His power.

Whenever I go through painful moments, I realize Jesus hurts with me. He doesn’t chide me for my pain, or express disappointment with my faith struggle. He also loves me enough to let me hurt, because He understands His purpose behind my pain. He knows the end of my story.

As I continue down the road, I pray to keep my eyes fastened on the One who empathizes with my pain. Wherever you are in your journey, I pray the same for you. 

 

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