In the 11th chapter of the Gospel of John, we read the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. We do not know much about Lazarus other than he lived in a town called Bethany and he had two sisters Mary and Martha. Lazarus and his sisters are the only people in the Gospels referred to as Jesus’ friends so they must have had a special relationship. We have no idea how they met or how long they had been friends, but the friendship was so important Jesus went to their home when he found out Lazarus had died.
We pick the story up at the tomb of Lazarus. He has been dead for three days, and Martha has just chastised Jesus because he had not been their sooner to help her brother and his friend. Jesus reminds her that her “brother will rise again.” She misunderstands him thinking that he means when all will rise again, but he tells her that he is the “resurrection and the life and those who believe in me, though he may die, he shall live.”
They leave that place and arrive at the tomb where Lazarus has been placed. Mary and Martha come with others, and they are grief stricken. We get the sense that the death of their brother Lazarus was unexpected. There are many gathered around, and they are all crying. Scripture tells us that when he saw them weeping for Lazarus “he groaned in the spirit and was troubled.” This was a deep groan from one who had lost a brother and a friend. Even though Jesus knew he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, he felt it deep within himself and had such compassion on those around him that he wept.
I take great comfort in this story from John’s Gospel. It shows the humanness of Jesus and the compassion and love that he has not only for those with him but for all of us in our times when we “groan in the spirit.” Jesus wants to be with us and bring us comfort in our times of distress.