Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Special thanks to Peggy Graff and her guests for providing this uplifting and inspiring addition to us in her Hymn-a-Day May series. I pray that these paired daily selections will uplift your spirits and feed your soul as much as it does mine.
John 11:32-44 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Anyone who had to memorize Bible verses as a child memorized John 11:35—“Jesus wept.” It is the shortest verse in the Bible, so it is a popular verse to memorize if you’re in a competition for the number of verses you can memorize. But it is a wonderful verse for another reason. It reminds us of the full humanity of Jesus. He wept. He saw the pain and grief of his friends, Mary and Martha, and he grieved the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus wept.
My friend Jim Moore tells the story of a clergy intern working at St. Luke’s in Houston a few years ago who was assigned the morning chapel communion service. He had never served communion alone before and he was scared. They had a communion service printed on a laminated card—much like we do for some of our services—and it started with the Invitation to Communion, followed by the Prayer of Confession and the Prayer of Consecration; and then just before the people would come forward to receive communion, the minister would stand, face the congregation and say, “Hear these words of comfort from the scriptures.” They left a blank there on the communion card so the officiating pastor could quote a verse of scripture at that point. When they got to this point in the service, the young ministerial student stood and said, “Hear these words of comfort from the scriptures…” And then he went absolutely blank. There was a long pause, and then he blurted out the only verse he could think of at the moment. The old standby of Sunday School memorization: “Jesus wept.”
Later he told Jim what happened and how awful he felt about that at first, but then how one of the members of the church came down after the service and said to him, “When you quoted that verse, ‘Jesus wept,’ that was so meaningful to me because it made me suddenly realize that… the Healer of our pain is the feeler of our pain!”
It’s true. Jesus is both the healer of our pain and the feeler of our pain. That is the good news in those two simple words. Jesus wept because he loved those people and the risen Christ weeps with us today in our pain and rejoices with us today in our joy. Jesus wept out of compassion and love.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster