Two words in the Christian faith have had a greater impact on us than I believe many of us realize. John 11:35 has some of the simplest words in the English language, yet the impact is far beyond comprehension: "Jesus wept." Over this past week, our nation has seen the ugliest acts of humanity portrayed and the evilest forms of actions committed. At the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif., the Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and the overnight shootings in Dayton, Ohio, we have witnessed a complete hopelessness in the shooters' lives. Jesus wept this week.
There is so much to say in these situations from a pastor’s perspective that it almost seems as if I can say nothing. It seems as if everything wants to come out at once, but then nothing can come out. We find ourselves without words but with so much to say. In John 11, Jesus had heard that Lazarus had died, and he had been placed in a tomb. Keep in mind this was ordinary practice. But as Jesus came to the city, he stopped short of it and wept there. He wept because he was sad. He wept because he was angry. He was sad that his friend had died. He was angry at the people’s unbelief in the resurrection. Jesus had already told them that he came to bring life, that even after they die, they will live. But here, as he approached the city, it appeared that everyone had forgotten what he said.
Why do these shootings and terrible events happen in the world today? Why do people become so hopeless in life that they feel the only solution they have is to harm other people? Sometimes, we cannot understand the actions of a human who has lost all hope of another day. There is one thing we do know, though. People who commit such horrendous acts have not experienced the resurrection in their own life. So what does that mean for Christians today? Our first reaction will always be to weep. But we cannot stay there. What if Jesus hadn’t finished the walk into the city? We must do as he did. We must continue despite our emotions. We must find the grave and we must tell the people to roll the stone aside. No, I am not talking about those who were the victims of these tragic incidents. I am talking about those who are living their lives in such despair that they remain in the grave. No life. No hope. No joy. No salvation. They just remain in the grave.
Something happens just before the stone is rolled away. Jesus says in verse 40, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” Why do people commit such heinous acts? They have not seen the glory of God. Each of us who have seen it can show it to someone else. Jesus didn’t stop short of the grave of Lazarus because he was too distraught or to upset. He kept on walking. He pressed through his tears and his anger. He told them to roll the stone aside and for Lazarus to come out. And out he came! We have the antidote to the evil in the world today. It is a new life, a walk out of the grave, a resurrection of the good that has been placed in us. We are to be Jesus to the people around us. You can weep. I have wept! You can observe briefly. I have observed. But don’t stay in those places. Go to the grave of the dead among you and tell them to come out! Tell them to receive the hope of Jesus Christ!
We will not be rid of the evil in this world without bringing people to Christ. God has been calling. He has been equipping. He has been leading. Are we ready? Are you ready? If you know Christ as your lord and savior, you can help counter this evil in the world today. From the beginning of ideas of hate to the mass shootings, we have the antidote. Let’s spread it! If you do not know Christ but wish too, find a church in your neighborhood and connect with them. Call the pastor. Find a friend who attends church. Go with them. Receive Christ. You will be glad you did!
— Clint McBroom is pastor at the First Church of God of Newton.