Why was Jesus angry and troubled at the loss of His friend Lazarus? This question was posed to me recently. So, this week we will explore this question and see if we can pull the answer out of the biblical text.
It can be a bit confusing due to the way John shares the story of Lazarus’ death. We discover this quickly as John tells us about Mary anointing the Lord in verse 2 and then Segways directly into the sending for Jesus. Now, this may not sound out of place at the moment, until you begin reading the next chapter where John tells us the story of Mary, her sister Martha, and how Mary anointed Jesus. Therefore, place Mary anointing Jesus after He had raised Lazarus, and we move on, sort of.
Both Mathew and Mark give the account of Jesus on the Cross, “crying out with a loud voice, saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46, Mar 15:34).
This image Mathew and Mark describe directly comments on what and how Jesus was feeling at the death of Lazarus. To that, I mean, we must understand that Jesus was both human and divine.
The apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians that, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God,” (Col 1:15). And John himself told us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” (Joh 1:14).
Therefore, we must acknowledge that Jesus, while being our Divine God, also had become flesh. Why would the creator of the universe do such a thing? What better way to interact with His creation?
Though He was God in the flesh, He was born a baby to Mary and Joseph, (Heb 2:9). And Jesus grew and as He grew older in this earthly world in flesh, He learned, (Luk 2:46). Learning is not always visible in most ways we think about. Remember, just asking a question is to learn, whether for the person asking or for the one answering. Luke even went on to report how “all that heard Him were amazed at His understanding,” (Luk 2:48).
God led the Israelites through the desert training and testing them. As Bible Teacher Ray Vander Laan suggests, God knew already what was in their hearts, but He wanted more; he wanted to experience their hearts [feelings] and their actions.
In New Testament times, how did God interact with and experience His creation? He did it through Christ Jesus for in His divine nature, I remind you, He [Jesus] was the image of the invisible God, (Col 1:15).
So, as we can see, Jesus [God in the Flesh] can and does feel and experience not only our joy, dreams, and hopes—He feels and experiences our suffering , pain, and loss.
So, is Jesus angry at the death of Lazarus? In a manner of speaking, yes. Look at it this way; Jesus was angry at the sin that had forced its way into the world. It was this sin that caused the death of Lazarus. God did not create man to die, not even in his flesh. Death of the flesh was caused by sin and by the disobedience it garnered. We can refer also to 1 Chronicles where it is written, “the LORD saw and was sorry over the calamity,” (1 Chr 21:15). Chaos and sin in His creation indeed angered Him.
Was Jesus, angry at Martha and Mary for their lack of faith? No. Let’s look at that issue through the lens of Peter and his walking on water, (Mat 14:31). Jesus was never angry with Peter for doubting. We might say rather that Christ was disappointed. And I think we can see that here once again concerning the lack of faith. But still, we can see more than that here. Jesus truly mourned the loss of Lazarus and along with Martha and Mary.
Did you think that losing Adam and Eve in their flesh made Him happy? God feels just as we feel. God created feelings. He created love, anger, holiness, humor. There is nothing we can experience that God did not create, save Sin, (1 Joh 3:1, 4:7-8, 4:16, 4:19, Jer 29:11, 31:3). I could go on listing all the verses within the Bible about God’s love for us, but I’m sure you get the point.
And it is not contrary to all the verses that tell us God loves us, when I remind that God did create Hatred as well. I realize this may be hard for some to hear–and we must understand that God did not create evil [Sin], (See chapter 1 Genesis). God hates Sin, (Rev 2:6, Pro 8:13, Psa 139:21-22, Isa 61:8, 1 Kin 11:9).
People [flesh and blood] die not because God loved us but because He hates Sin. So, can we now understand how God feels? God is not an inanimate object. We were created in His very image, (Gen 1:27), which is why we must see Him and relate to Him as our Almighty God, in the Person of God, as our Father in Heaven, (Mat 6:9-13).
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