ODJ: death’s sting

March 20, 2015 

READ: John 11:1-44 

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him and he was deeply troubled (v.33).

Near the closing of the film Forrest Gump, Forrest is standing alone at the foot of the grave of his dearly beloved Jenny: “You died on a Saturday morning. And I had you placed here under our tree. . . . Momma always said dyin’ was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t.”

I also wish death were not a part of life, for I’m tired of burying family and friends that I love, and then watching those of us who are left behind go through the agony of loss.

Jesus experienced the same thing. The gospel of John tells us that when Jesus saw Mary and others grieving over the death of Lazarus, “a deep anger welled up within him” (John 11:33). Moments later, “Jesus wept” (v.35).

Why did Jesus have such a strong emotional reaction? For the same reason that we do. We were never meant to experience death. Yes, death can be a merciful end to physical suffering. Still, it remains our great and final enemy.

John goes on to write that “Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb” of his friend (v.38). It’s almost as if He couldn’t take it anymore. He longed for people to know that in His new world (that would begin after He rose from the dead), “dyin’” would no longer be a part of life (Revelation 21:4). Raising Lazarus from the dead was Jesus’ way of giving those who mourned a hopeful taste of how things were going to change radically in the new heaven and new earth.

Death’s sting is real. At times it’s nearly unbearable. But we have hope for the day when the sting of death is “swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). “Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.57). Jeff Olson

365-day plan: 1 Samuel 3:1-21

Read Colossians 3:1-4 and consider what it means for you to possess new life in Christ that death cannot touch. 
Why is it normal and appropriate to experience sadness and grief at the sting of death? What does it mean for you to know that Jesus has ultimately triumphed over it?