When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
"Where have you laid him?"
They said to him, "Sir, come and see."
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, "See how he loved him."
The Jesus of the Gospels is, honestly, not a particularly warm figure. If he expresses emotion, it is typically anger and frustration. But for the most part, he is stoic, controlled, and demanding. I suspect there was real warmth in his relationship with the apostles, disciples and those they encountered along the way – there must have been for him to attract such a devoted following – but it is rarely indicated in what is written about him.
We do well to reflect on the crying, sobbing Jesus of today’s Gospel. The sight of his old friend, Mary (always the more sensitive of the two sisters) crying at the tomb of her brother Lazarus, together with Martha and all of Lazarus’s friends, moves him to tears. John’s staccato rendering of the moment produces one of the shortest line in all of Scripture: “And Jesus wept.” (The shortest is 1 Thessalonians 5:16, which is, ironically, “Rejoice evermore.”) Obviously, he is utterly overcome, as those standing around him remark at the depth of his emotion.
Why did John break the custom of depicting Jesus as stoic at this moment? It doesn’t even make a lot of sense given that he fully knew, according to John, that he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. I suspect the moment survived into the written Gospel because it was genuine, heartfelt and probably disturbing to those around him. The memory of Jesus crushed and overwrought simply could not be glossed over.
I am fairly certain we have a God Who is not stoic, Who has no expectation that we can handle it, Who is not closing one door to open another, but Who suffers it all with us, in all its intensity, not assuaged by anything He may do for us in the future, so that we never suffer alone.
So ends the Consolation Series. I hope you found peace in it. Thanks for following along!
Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many homes. If it weren’t so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also. You know where I go, and you know the way.”
I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. In that day, you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, I give to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.
John 14:1-4, 18-20, 27
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. Without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness hasn’t overcome it.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created in the heavens and on the earth, visible things and invisible things, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things are held together. He is the head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence. For all the fullness was pleased to dwell in him, and through him to reconcile all things to himself by him, whether things on the earth or things in the heavens, having made peace through the blood of his cross.
Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must become imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable body will have become imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 51-58
If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don’t have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don’t have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but don’t have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient and is kind. Love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known. But now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. The greatest of these is love.
Image: Descent from the Cross, Rembrandt
What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things? Who could bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Even as it is written, “For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from God’s love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I will say, “Rejoice!” Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more. I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away.”
He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” He said, “Write, for these words of God are faithful and true.” He said to me, “I have become the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes, I will give him these things. I will be his God, and he will be my son.
One of the seven angels came, and he spoke with me, saying, “Come here. I will show you the wife, the Lamb’s bride.” He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, as if it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal; having a great and high wall; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. The city was pure gold, like pure glass. The foundations of the city’s wall were adorned with all kinds of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; and the twelfth, amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls. Each one of the gates was made of one pearl. The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. The city has no need for the sun or moon to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk in its light. The kings of the earth bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. Its gates will in no way be shut by day (for there will be no night there), and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it so that they may enter.
He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will be no curse any more. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no night, and they need no lamp light or sun light; for the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign forever and ever.
Revelations 21:1-7, 9-14, 18-26; 22:1-5
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could count, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. They cried with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation be to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
All the angels were standing around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before his throne, and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might, be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
One of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are arrayed in the white robes, who are they, and where did they come from?”
I told him, “My lord, you know.”
He said to me, “These are those who came out of the great suffering. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. Therefore, they are before the throne of God, they serve him day and night in his temple. He who sits on the throne will spread his tabernacle over them. They will never be hungry or thirsty any more. The sun won’t beat on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the middle of the throne shepherds them and leads them to springs of life-giving waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Image: Jan van Eyck, The Ghent Altarpiece (1430)
Yahweh says: “I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the middle of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called ‘The City of Truth;’ and the mountain of Yahweh, ‘The Holy Mountain.’ ”
Yahweh says: “Old men and old women will again dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand for very age. The streets of the city will be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.”
Yahweh says: “If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my eyes?” says Yahweh.
Yahweh says: “Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; and I will bring them, and they will dwell within Jerusalem; and they will be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.”
“For the seed of peace and the vine will yield its fruit, and the ground will give its increase, and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. It shall come to pass that, as you were a curse among the nations, house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing. Don’t be afraid. Let your hands be strong.”
Yahweh says: “Many peoples, and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come; and the inhabitants of one shall go to another, saying, ‘Let’s go speedily to entreat the favor of Yahweh, and to seek Yahweh. I will go also.’ Yes, many peoples and strong nations will come to seek Yahweh in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of Yahweh.” Yahweh says: “In those days, ten men will take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, they will take hold of the skirt of him who is a Jew, saying, ‘We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’ ”
Zechariah 8:3-8, 12-13, 20-23
Photo: ok, I can't help but imagine Minas Tirith when I read this passage.
O Jerusalem, look about you toward the east, and behold the joy that comes to you from God. Behold, your sons come, whom you sent away, they come gathered together from the east to the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing in the glory of God.
Put off, O Jerusalem, the garment of your mourning and affliction, and put on the beauty of the glory that comes from God forever. Cast about you the robe of the righteousness which comes from God; set a diadem on your head of the glory of the Everlasting. For God will show your brightness to every region under heaven. For your name shall be called of God forever ‘The peace of righteousness,’ and ‘The glory of godliness.’ Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand upon the height, and look about you toward the east, and behold your children gathered from the going down of the sun to the rising thereof at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them. For they went from you on foot, being led away of their enemies: but God brings them in to you borne on high with glory, as on a royal throne. For God has appointed that every high mountain, and the everlasting hills, should be made low, and the valleys filled up, to make plain the ground, that Israel may go safely in the glory of God. Moreover, the woods and every sweet-smelling tree have overshadowed Israel by the commandment of God. For God shall lead Israel with joy in the light of his glory with the mercy and righteousness that comes from him.
Baruch 4:36-37, 5:1-9
Photo: Cathedral Rock, Sedona, Arizona
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
and the former things will not be remembered,
nor come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create;
for, behold, I create Jerusalem to be a delight,
and her people a joy.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
and the voice of weeping and the voice of crying
will be heard in her no more.
No more will there be an infant who only lives a few days,
nor an old man who has not filled his days;
for the child will die one hundred years old.
They will build houses and inhabit them.
They will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They will not build and another inhabit.
They will not plant and another eat:
for the days of my people will be like the days of a tree,
and my chosen will long enjoy the work of their hands.
They will not labor in vain
nor give birth for calamity;
for they are the offspring of Yahweh’s blessed
and their descendants with them.
It will happen that before they call, I will answer;
and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together.
The lion will eat straw like the ox.
Dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain,”
Photo by the author somewhere over Texas
For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her righteousness shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning lamp.
The nations will see your righteousness,
and all kings your glory.
You will be called by a new name,
which Yahweh’s mouth will name.
You will also be a crown of beauty in Yahweh’s hand,
and a royal diadem in your God’s hand.
You will not be called Forsaken any more,
nor will your land be called Desolate anymore;
but you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for Yahweh delights in you,
and your land will be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
so your sons will marry you.
As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so your God will rejoice over you.
I have set watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem.
They will never be silent day nor night.
You who call on Yahweh, take no rest,
and give him no rest, until he establishes,
and until he makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
Yahweh has sworn by his right hand,
and by the arm of his strength,
Surely, I will no more give your grain to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners will not drink your new wine, for which you have labored,
but those who have harvested it will eat it, and praise Yahweh.
Those who have gathered it will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.”
Go through, go through the gates!
Prepare the way of the people!
Build up, build up the highway!
Gather out the stones!
Lift up a banner for the peoples.
Behold, Yahweh has proclaimed to the end of the earth,
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your salvation comes!
Behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him!’ ”
They will call them “The Holy People,
You will be called “Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken”.
Photo: Atop Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona, by the author
Photo: Atop Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona, by the author
The Lord Yahweh’s Spirit is on me,
because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good news to the humble.
He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to those who are bound,
to proclaim the year of Yahweh’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion,
to give to them a garland for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,
that they may be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of Yahweh,
that he may be glorified.
They will rebuild the old ruins.
They will raise up the former devastated places.
They will repair the ruined cities
that have been devastated for many generations.
Strangers will stand and feed your flocks.
Foreigners will work your fields and your vineyards.
But you will be called Yahweh’s priests.
Men will call you the servants of our God.
Instead of your shame you will have double.
Instead of dishonor, they will rejoice in their portion.
Therefore, in their land they will possess double.
Everlasting joy will be to them.
“For I, Yahweh, love justice.
I will give them their reward in truth
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their offspring will be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge them,
that they are the offspring which Yahweh has blessed.”
I will greatly rejoice in Yahweh!
My soul will be joyful in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation.
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth produces its bud,
and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord Yahweh will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and Yahweh’s glory has risen on you.
For, behold, darkness will cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but Yahweh will arise on you,
and his glory shall be seen on you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
“Lift up your eyes all around, and see:
they all gather themselves together.
They come to you.
Your sons will come from far away,
and your daughters will be carried in arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant,
and your heart will thrill and be enlarged;
because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you.
The wealth of the nations will come to you.
A multitude of camels will cover you,
the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah.
All from Sheba will come.
They will bring gold and frankincense,
and will proclaim the praises of Yahweh.
All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together to you.
The rams of Nebaioth will serve you.
They will be accepted as offerings on my altar;
and I will beautify my glorious house.
“Who are these who fly as a cloud,
and as the doves to their windows?
Surely the islands will wait for me,
and the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your sons from far,
their silver and their gold with them,
for the name of Yahweh your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel,
because he has glorified you.
“Foreigners will build up your walls,
and their kings will serve you:
for in my favor, I have had mercy on you.
Your gates also shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night, that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations.
“The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress tree, the pine, and the box tree together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
The sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you;
and all those who despised you will bow themselves down at the soles of your feet.
They will call you Yahweh’s City,
the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
“Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
so that no one passed through you,
I will make you an eternal excellency,
a joy of many generations.
You will also drink the milk of the nations,
and will nurse from royal breasts.
Then you will know that I, Yahweh, am your Savior,
the Mighty One of Jacob.
For bronze I will bring gold;
for iron I will bring silver;
for wood, bronze,
and for stones, iron.
I will also make peace your governor,
and righteousness your ruler.
Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
nor desolation or destruction within your borders;
but you will call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.
The sun will be no more your light by day;
nor will the brightness of the moon give light to you,
but Yahweh will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will not go down any more,
nor will your moon withdraw itself;
for Yahweh will be your everlasting light,
and the days of your mourning will end.
Then your people will all be righteous.
They will inherit the land forever,
the branch of my planting,
the work of my hands,
that I may be glorified.
22 The little one will become a thousand,
and the small one a strong nation.
I, Yahweh, will do this quickly in its time.”
Isaiah 60:1-11; 13-22
and he who formed you, Israel, says:
“Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name.
You are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,
and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned,
and flame will not scorch you.
For I am Yahweh your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Since you have been precious and honored in my sight,
and I have loved you,
therefore, I will give people in your place,
and nations instead of your life.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and gather you from the west.
I will tell the north, ‘Give them up!’
and tell the south, ‘Don’t hold them back!’
Bring my sons from far away,
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
and whom I have created for my glory,
whom I have formed,
yes, whom I have made.”
Behold, my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights:
I have put my Spirit on him.
He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout,
nor raise his voice,
nor cause it to be heard in the street.
He won’t break a bruised reed.
He won’t quench a dimly burning wick.
He will faithfully bring justice.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
until he has set justice in the earth,
and the islands wait for his law.
He who created the heavens and stretched them out,
He who spread out the earth and that which comes out of it,
He who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk in it, says:
I, Yahweh, have called you in righteousness.
I will hold your hand.
I will keep you,
and make you a covenant for the people,
as a light for the nations,
to open the blind eyes,
to bring the prisoners out of the dungeon,
and those who sit in darkness out of the prison.