Text: John 11:1-44, 1 Corinthians 15:50-57
This is part of a 10-day series on the person of Christ in the 2016 Lent study.
It never crossed my mind that I’d never been behind the wheel of the Jeep.
I’d always had Ken, as I called him, the most reliable of brothers who’d plop into the driver’s seat with directions, a new playlist, and extra ChapStick®. “Kait,” as he called me, “up for milkshakes on the way home?” Regardless of our destination, milkshakes were always on the itinerary.
We’d sit in a vacant parking lot sipping cookie dough shakes and cracking inside jokes long into the night, blurring the lines between siblings and best friends. Loud music would shake the seats splattered with paint, an indication of my brother’s latest business venture. He was 20 years old and an entrepreneur, known for pausing my favorite song to write down an idea on a legal pad found in his glove box.
Upon returning to our childhood home where our parents were fast asleep, we’d gently close the Jeep doors and tiptoe in to keep the dog from barking. At the top of the stairs, he would turn to me and whisper, “Thanks for going!”
But one day, tragedy slammed the door on our adventures, replacing them with silence. Ken, my ice cream-slurping, idea-birthing, inside-joking best friend of a brother was gone. I was a passenger without a driver to call me “Kait,” left with nothing but grief and an empty gold Jeep.
I don’t know if Lazarus had nicknames for Mary and Martha or what inside jokes made them giggle, but I bet they felt the same stilled shock of losing their childhood co-keeper. Maybe they’d dreamed about becoming aunts and uncles and promised to keep secrets from mom and dad forever. But sickness had overcome their sweet brother, the tomb slicing their family tree. It wasn’t fair.
Four days later, Jesus arrived (John 11:17).
Days after losing my own brother, the Jeep’s headlights appeared in the driveway. The stranger at the wheel had driven it back home to us. I remember watching his chapped lips murmur his condolences. My brother’s Jeep was here but he was not, and so its presence meant something very different now; never again would the parked car in the driveway signify a full house.
Martha shared in my sisterly sorrow as she greeted Jesus that day. “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died” (John 11:21).
Jesus answered her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
“Yes, Lord,” she told Him, “I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world” (John 11:27).
My grieving heart admires Martha’s expressed faith, but my sisterly intuition knows she’s still staring into a sibling-shaped void.
Soon after hearing of Jesus’ arrival, Mary expressed the same grief: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!” And this time, as Jesus asked where Lazarus was buried, He began to weep.
To Martha, Jesus establishes that He is God.
To Mary, Jesus establishes that He is human.
He could have asserted His power to Martha and bee-lined to the miracle, but He didn’t. He intentionally walked through the weeping. He entered into the sorrow and the heartbrokenness for His glory and for our gain (John 11:4,14-15).
Jesus enters the grief of humanity to show us the only way out—Himself.
When I moved to a new city, the gold Jeep came with me. The signature paint splatters became permanent and the scribbled legal pads never moved. Now I sit in the driver’s seat. I fit my hands into the grooves left by my brother’s grip, and sink into the memories as I place my foot on the gas.
Now I realize that Jesus does the same thing: He places Himself in our pain, so that we, His grieving sisters, might grieve no more (Romans 8:17). He gave up His life to bookend our sorrow between who He is and why He came—to rescue our souls and make us adopted kin of the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
He is the resurrection and the life.
He came to swallow up death in victory.
He died and rose again so that we might live.
Thanks be to God.