The Displeasure of Jesus

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
— John 11:33

In John 11:32, the authorized translation has the words, “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit and was troubled;” according to the margin of the revised version, “he was moved with indignation in the spirit, and troubled himself.” And in the 38th verse we read, according to the margin, “Jesus therefore again being moved with indignation in himself cometh to the tomb.” Indignation—anger at the very tomb, in the presence of hearts torn by the loss of a brother four days dead, whom also he loved! Yes, verily, friends, such indignation as, at such a time, it was eternally right the heart of Jesus should be so moved. I can hardly doubt that he is in like manner moved by what he sees now at the death-beds and graves of not a few who are not his enemies, and yet in the presence of death seem no better than pagans. What have such gained by being the Christians they say they are? They fix their eyes on a grisly phantasm they call Death, and never lift them to the radiant Christ standing by bed or grave! For them, Christ has not conquered Death; Death is rather their king. They would shudder at the thought of saying so in words, but they say it in the bitterness of their tears, in their eyes of despair. “What,” they ask, “would you have us not weep?” Weep freely, friends; but let your tears be those of expectant Christians, not hopeless pagans. 

Commentary

by Jess Lederman

Traumatic events are stress-tests of our faith. MacDonald has seized on the death of a loved one, because of the context of John 11:33, and that is certainly one of the most terrible tests. In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis wrote eloquently of his own desperate struggle to regain his faith after the death of his wife. If Lewis was shaken to that degree, none of us should assume we are immune! When my wife, Teri, passed away, I had the advantage of having read Lewis' book, and, more significantly, seen how strong Teri's own faith had been during the two years in which she battled ALS. But there are many other tests I may yet face, whether a diagnosis, a temptation, or--well, I know not what. 

I think, though, that we should be grateful for such tests. "Lead us not into temptation," yes, but search us, Lord, and reveal to us the weaknesses of which we may not be aware. Let my strength become stronger, in whatever way the Lord wills!