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The Other Side of the Rock

With the recent death of my friend and mother-in-love, followed quickly by the death of my biological father, I've been thinking about the finality of death. We fill that uncomfortable space with words to each other of "they're now at peace", or worse, "they're in a better place" or "now they're your angel". Gads. I can't stand any of those phrases. But I understand that most of us think it's better than silence. Just to say something. I recently spent some time reflecting on the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept”. John 11:36 As with so many verses in the Bible, these 2 words have been speculated about, discussed, interpreted, commentated on and everything else we do with words that are so simple and yet so profound. The context of course is important. Jesus wept as He saw Mary weeping-her brother, Lazarus, was dead. He saw her friends weeping. Death, and the result of death, was thick and heavy in the air. I agree with commentators who say why Jesus wept; He was sad that they were sad. He was sad that His friend Lazarus died. He was sad and angry at the evil of death. But, I wonder if Jesus cried knowing that the faces of Mary and the others gathered at the tomb of Lazarus would soon be the faces of His mom, His aunt, His friends weeping as He Himself died. His tears were for even Himself. This is the part of death the dead don’t participate in. The torn, separation, tears, bewilderment, anger, lack of explanation. Lazarus was lying in complete oblivion to all the processing that was happening on the other side of the rock. Very soon this would be repeated when the great I AM would be apparently “no more”, and would also be laid behind a big rock leaving those on the outside stunned and lost. Jesus wept. And this was a lot to weep for.

Even though through His death and by His resurrection, death no longer would have the final word, there is still the transitional portion of the passage way from life to Life. The biggest, most significant part of it for those who still live, is the physical absence of the one we recognize, know and love. Their body, facial expressions, laugh, words, voice, all things associated with tangible and familiar is gone. By faith we now live without them, trusting we will see them again. It’s a lot. Jesus was, and is not, ignorant of the enormous thing He’s asking of us when He asks us to believe. And He weeps with us because He remembers. He knows. Death is not only a final definitive transition; it’s an unknown one. We can’t practice, peek, try it out. We can only go through. But Jesus, who has experienced both sides of the rock, is always with us.

And He is moved by what moves us. Jesus wept; He too is sorry for our loss.

My loss.

Your loss.

May we give Him permission to stuff the empty spaces with His presence, may we allow Him to just hang out with us and weep with us.

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