John 11:17-47 – The Heartache of God – Pastor Eric, April 7, 2019
We all experience heartache in life no matter how young or old you are. It comes in all shapes and sizes whether the loss of a loved one, physical suffering, loneliness, or a family crisis. It is in these moments when heartache punches us in the gut, we all ask, Why God? Why God did it have to be this way? Why God aren’t you doing something about it?
Heartache has come to the beloved friends of Jesus, and they have lost their beloved brother, Lazarus. They wonder could Jesus have done something to stop it. Jesus has answers for His friends with timeless truths seasoned with love and grace. Truths that can bring us comfort, hope, and faith beyond our deepest heartaches.
The first answer is, Jesus is greater than my heartache. Jesus knows our deepest heartache. Everything we go through has passed through the Hands of God. Jesus has a plan greater than our sorrow so we might see that He is greater than our sorrow. (John 11:17-27)
Jesus could have come to see Lazarus sooner, but He does not. Lazarus is now dead for four days, and there is no longer any hope. Hope is gone!!! Death had cometh, and it has crushed all hope for Mary and Martha.
Jesus’ answer to Martha is unorthodox. Jesus answers her heartache with the self-declaration, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus declares He is God above death, and He will defeat the one thing that hurts, death itself.
Jesus turns everything upside down by pointing to Himself, and His self-disclosure is the bright shining star in a moment of darkness and despair. His answer tells us that God is never absent for our pain nor is He ever less of God because of it. But He is ultimately greater than it. He is the only one we need in it.
Sorrow, loneliness, and heartache are always hard, because we always think our heartbreaks are the end, but that’s never true with God. The truth is that our heartache is not the end, but Jesus must be our end. Jesus’ answer is full of truth and full of hope, because He is the only cure for our deepest pain. He is the only one who can breathe life into our dungeon. He truly is what we need in every heartache of life.
The second answer is Jesus comforts me in my heartache. Jesus meets with us in our sorrow and our loss. He is caring for our every need, every emotion, and every hurt. He feels it, and He is able to sympathize with us. (John 11:28-37)
Jesus is emotionally overcome, and He is greatly troubled. He is furious over death and sin. His nature for justice is overcome with rage against a world never meant for pain and suffering. So, Jesus weeps. He weeps with them and for them like no one can.
Jesus shows He is not a stoic, impersonal, or foreign God. He has not created the world and left it to fend for itself. No! The beauty of our Savior is that He joins in our pain before He fixes our pain.
Jesus comforts us in our heartache of losing a loved one. He understands the disappointment in life, and He knows the awful effects of death, illness, or violence. He weeps with us in our brokenness over our family’s divorce or our child’s struggles. Jesus meets with us to let us know we are never alone.
Finally, Jesus transforms my heartache. He redeems my heartache. He is able to turn our sorrow and pain into something for our good and His glory. (John 11:38-44)
Jesus reveals again His purpose and His glory, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” In a moment of prayer to the Father, Jesus calls to His Father and cries out with a loud voice “Lazarus come out!” It was a tremendous cry. Jesus didn’t need to cry out, but He wanted everyone to hear and to see the power and the glory of God. Then, the most amazing thing happened. Lazarus came walking out. Alive! Risen! Resurrected!
Christ had overcome death, and He had done the miracle of all miracles: raise a man from the dead. Christ was foreshadowing what was to come when He arose from the tomb Himself for all people to believe in Christ. And if Jesus had the power to overcome death, then He certainly has the power to overcome your heartache.
How is this all possible? How can Jesus transform our hurting hearts? It’s important to see the deepest heartache in this passage isn’t Martha or Mary’s heartache. It is not someone in the crowd. It is actually Jesus’ heartache.
In verse 33, Jesus was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled. Yes, Jesus grieved for Mary and Martha. We all know He wept. But He also was fiercely upset. Upset over death, upset over sin and its affects.
But beyond that, Jesus was greatly troubled because He knew that the resurrection of Lazarus would be His end. It would require His life. This miracle would seal His fate into the agony of the cross. Saving one life meant losing another, His own life.
Lazarus, the dead man, walked out of the tomb, because Jesus, became the new dead man walking in. There was relief for the deepest heartache of man, because there was the deepest heartache of God, Christ crucified.
Jesus swapped His life for Lazarus’ life and He did so for us. Jesus knows this would be His destiny, and this is ultimately why He became so troubled. This is God’s heartache of love!!!
This is the true heartache of the gospel, yet it is the true power of the gospel to set us free, free from death, free from the grave, free from sorrow, and free from loneliness.
God’s sorrow and pain became His glory to transform us from death to life. This is what makes Jesus our only hope, our only comfort, and our only redemption in life.
This is how Jesus’ heartache makes our heartache an opportunity for our good and His glory so we might say Jesus is greater than my heartache.
Welcome to Maina Sato, InterVarsity ministry worker on the UC Berkeley campus reaching Asian students. Maina came to the US for college at Diablo Valley College and continued on at UCB studying linguistics. Other students reached out to her and her initial fear and caution of Christianity changed when she came to know Christ in her own saving way. She now has the desire to share the gospel with other students that they will also come to faith in Jesus Christ. Maina is attending our Nichigo department services and is now a SanLo supported missionary.