July 11, 2022
But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart (John 16:5-6).
Over the course of many years I have stood at the deathbed, casket, or grave-side of hundreds of people. Some of them had no faith in Jesus Christ, no fellowship with God the Father, no hope of eternal life. Many of them did. What has been interesting is to note the reactions and responses of people in both groups. In many instances it didn’t matter what the spiritual condition of the deceased person had been, or what the spiritual condition of those who remained had been. Most demonstrated a sorrow that was contrary to what the Apostle Paul said it should be in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.
In many ways we are still a frail and selfish, self-centered people, even as Christians. It is a testimony to the fact that the flesh still has a major hold on us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This is not to say that we should not express grief and sorrow over the passing of a loved one, but it is to say that we should not grieve like the rest of the world who have no hope of eternal life beyond this life. And yet, many do, even Christians.
Some will say that we should grieve at the grave of a loved one, after all, Jesus did at the grave of Lazarus. Yes, Jesus did weep at the tomb of Lazarus. But was His sorrow and grief the same as ours? Was His weeping motivated as our is? When Jesus wept (dakruo, not klaio), His was a silent shedding of tears unlike the outburst of weeping and wailing of most people. His tears were a response to His love for Lazarus and for Mary and Martha, but also the response to the deadly curse of sin upon a fallen humanity. It not only stressed Jesus’ humanity that He would sorrow for the death of a friend and his family, it also stressed His deity in that God sorrows over the curse of sin that ends in our death. It is a righteous sorrow, not a hopeless and fleshly sorrow.
Why do I mention this? But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. The word for sorrow is lupe, and, like klaio, refers to a sorrow that is all about self, not others. In a few short hours Jesus would be arrested, tried, condemned, scourged, and crucified. Jesus had told the disciples this repeatedly. Yet their grief and sorrow was not for Him, it was for them - a “What are we going to do without You” sorrow. We mourn over sin, over trials and temptations, over our lot in life, etc. We curse the cloud of darkness that hangs over us and fail to realize the benefits of such days. (James 1:2-4) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (2 Peter 1:5-8) But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such things are not really about us and our suffering, but about Jesus and the opportunity for Him to enrich our lives. Amen.