At Gateway Church in Austin, we continued our series: Confessions From Your Pastors. Ted Beasley shared about the cure for a wounded heart. You can watch the message at www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast and see the notes below.
To dig deeper and apply the message, work through the Next Steps.
“We’re doing a series called Heart Scan, and we’re talking about overcoming the wounds inflicted upon us by other people. John has bravely shared the past two weeks from his own life about how wounds can get buried and wreak havoc. And after each message, we’re challenging you to leave this place to go do some hard work on your heart. Are you doing it? Are you starting to come alive?
When our heart is wounded, one of the biggest questions we have about God is, “Does he care?” Have you ever wondered how God feels about your pain? Whether your pain is physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual, does God even care?
Today we are going to answer that question with one verse from the Bible. We are going to begin to grasp God’s emotions towards our pain in what is easily the shortest verse in the entire Bible. It is found in John 11:35. Jesus wept.
The verse is found where Jesus is informed that his good friend Lazarus has died of an illness. Jesus goes to Lazarus’ house. He is overcome by grief and he weeps, and then Jesus actually raises Lazarus from the dead. It’s a great story, but I want you to grasp the intensity of what it means for you personally that Jesus wept.
Some of us for years have accused God from being absent from our lives. Some of us are deeply frustrated because we feel as though we have to carry a burden alone. Some of us have felt nothing from God in days or weeks or months or even years.
If you want the cure to your wounded heart, you’ve got to see that Jesus wept.
Today’s message seeks to answer one question: Why did Jesus weep?
Most people are convinced that Jesus wept because Lazarus was dead, but this theory that Jesus wept because his friend is dead is not true.
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” (John 11:1-3)
I think John isn’t specific about Lazarus’ illness because he is not just writing a story about a man who became ill. John is writing a universal story about sickness and pain and your wounded heart.
Each of us walked into this room with some sort of sickness, some sort of burden we carry. Just for a moment, in your mind, I want you to name your illness. How have you been wounded? What are you carrying today? What in your life would cause a friend like Mary or Martha, if they knew, to call Jesus and say, “Come quick, my friend is hurting?”
Jesus wept, but it wasn’t because his good friend Lazarus was sick. John, the author of this gospel, writes masterfully, and I want you to watch as he builds this case for why Jesus wept. He leaves us a series of hints as the story unfolds.
Hint #1: He says the sickness will not end with death.
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4)
Jesus knows he’s going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus is making a statement about sickness and heartache and the human condition. None of those things ultimately end in death. Jesus is sure of something that you and I are so quick to forget. This life is not all that there is. Our pains, however horrific they are at the time, are momentary in light of all eternity. We may have to endure disappointment now, but our illness will not ultimately end in death. One day we will pass, and we will see God face to face, and all of the broken-heartedness of this life will be just a memory. Do you believe that? Why do we live like we don’t? Why do despair about things that are outside our control? Why do we obsess over frustrations?
This will not end in death. Say that this week under your breath when something goes differently than you want it to go.
Hint #2: Jesus waits two days.
Rather than rushing off to be at Lazarus’ side, Jesus pauses.
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. (John 11:5-6)
Later Jesus is going to be criticized for not going to heal Lazarus earlier, but Jesus already knows it will not end in death, so he waits. If the reason that Jesus later weeps at the grave of Lazarus is because he is overwhelmed with sadness and loss for his friend, he wouldn’t have waited two days. He would have gone immediately. Sometimes God waits because he knows the whole story.
I realize that this point is completely unsatisfying if you are in pain right now. You want God to act. You want him to swoop in and make everything better. Sometimes God waits, and He never tells us why. We read in other places in scripture that God is at work in ways we can’t possibly fathom.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Many skeptics and people with wounded hearts see this verse as a kind of cop-out, a mental crutch. To any who say this verse is just wishful thinking, I would say prove it. Prove to me that God doesn’t work things together for the good. Prove to me that He does not have some eternal purpose in mind that we cannot fathom this side of heaven. Nobody has ever given me a definitive instance of a time when God did not intervene for no good reason. Jesus could have gone to Lazarus, but He waits 2 days.
Hint #3: Jesus tells them Lazarus is dead.
You’ll have to read verses 7-10 on your own. They include a kind of funny debate that Jesus has with his disciples about getting whacked by the Jewish mafia. You can read that story on your own. Let’s pick up the tail end of this conversation in verse 11.
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:11-15)
We are about to read that Jesus wept, but I don’t think it is because he sad about Lazarus dying. He tells his disciples here plainly that he is going to go raise Lazarus from the dead. There is no sadness in Jesus. In fact, it sounds like he is now chomping at the bit to go. He says, okay, we’ve waited long enough. I want to show you something. You’re not going to believe this. So they journey to Bethany, and look at what happens.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.“ (John 11:20-22)
Martha’s statement will be echoed a few verses later by her sister Mary. They say, “Jesus, if you would have been here earlier, then our brother would not have died.” But then this really bizarre thing happens. Martha blames Jesus, then she turns right around and declares her faith when she says: I believe God will give you whatever you ask. It’s mixed emotions. We all have mixed emotions, even about the same event, and it’s hard to sort through how we should feel.
Why shouldn’t our faith be any different?
Martha was blaming Jesus, and yet at the same time she was telling him that she still hoped in his power. It’s okay in your grief or woundedness to be angry with God. It’s okay for you to express your outrage that He didn’t show up for you on time. He can take that. He is not threatened by your honesty. Some of you need to go home and just let the mixed emotions fly. Tell God you want to believe, but tell him you feel like He’s let you down. If you are not expressing yourself, then you are covering it up, and you’ll never communicate honestly.
Hint #4: Jesus says that Lazarus will rise again.
Jesus is not about to cry because he’ll never see Lazarus again.
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:23-26)
Jesus is not about to start weeping. He’s so pumped he’s bursting at the seams. Martha misunderstands Jesus. She thinks Jesus is merely telling her that she’ll see her brother one day in heaven, but Jesus says: Wait a second. I have in my hands the power you need. I can tell your brother to wake up, and he’ll come walking out of that tomb. I am the resurrection and the life. In just a short time I am going to be crucified, and then I’m going to come back. I’m going to beat death. I am going to conquer every difficulty every human being ever faced. And I will bring that power to bear in anyone’s life, if they will just believe.
Jesus says to Martha: If you just believe. He says to you: It can happen if you just believe.
Jesus isn’t sad right here, he’s so excited, because he’s about to show this power that is now available for hurting, confused, oppressed people.
So here’s the moment that changes everything. Something happens that takes Jesus off his game and plunges him into sadness. Mary,Martha’s sister and also the sister of Lazarus has not been in on the conversation yet. She hasn’t seen the gleam of promise in Jesus’ eyes or heard his hope-filled words that he is the resurrection and the life. She comes to him weeping uncontrollably.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. (John 11:33-35)
These are two of the most important words ever written. Jesus wept. He comes apart. He sobs big, hot, wet tears. And maybe you’ve never seen God from this perspective, but look at him here. See why he weeps. It’s not because his friend is dead. He sees Mary and the others suffering needlessly without hope. He sees them carrying this burden on their shoulders, not knowing there is a solution. He sees the human condition. Alone. Scared. Broken. Grieving. These people don’t know that the solution is standing ten feet away from them. John says he is deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
“It’s not right,” Jesus groans under his breath.
It’s not right that death and suffering has this kind of power. It’s not right that people are cut off from hope and blinded by despair. It’s not right that death haunts people from cradle to grave. It’s not right that a wounded heart would convince people that there is something in this universe that has the power to separate us from the love of God. It’s not right that these things would break our spirit.
Jesus weeps because we weep. He grieves when we grieve. Not because an illness will end in death or that people die, but because we lack hope. He weeps because we don’t turn to him. Jesus carried a cross so that you don’t have to carry a wounded heart anymore, and you don’t have to be alone.
Look at what Peter says:
They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls. (1 Peter 2:23-25)
The Cure is the cross, Peter says. The cross tells you that you are never alone, that there is true hope. One day, on the mob-strewn streets of Jerusalem, another woman named Mary had lost her hope as she watched her son carry the cross to his execution. And even in her grief and wounded heart, Jesus points her toward true hope.
Don’t hide your wounded heart anymore. Don’t grieve alone. Jesus says, “See, I make all things new.” Jesus stands next to you right now. He says to you, “I know there are some things that you need desperately today. I have the power to do something about what ails you and the burdens you carry. It will not end in death. And though I may not work everything out the way you would prefer, I will do what is best, if you’ll let me. I am the resurrection and the life. If you believe in me, even though you die, yet shall you live.”