Kanye West was Right about One Thing (John 11:1-44)
I left the church as a teenager for the church of heavy metal because it was less judgmental, more inclusive and it better connected with me at an emotional level.
Metal was all about anger, partying and heartbreak, which, as a teenager, was my life! I spent most of the ’80’s partying, fighting and listening to power ballads in the dark while crying over some girl!
On the other hand, I saw God as unemotional, unmoved and uninterested in me as a person. I thought God was disgusted with what I thought and did. I believed God just wanted me to behave…but I didn’t seem to be able to behave.
I came to think of God this way largely via my experience with His church, which also struck me as unemotional, unmoved, uninterested in me and ultimately just wanted me to sit down, shut up and behave.
Yet, I’m not at all sure that this is the way the Bible presents God as we see Him in Jesus. Take a look at John 11:1-44:
1Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again inthe resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
28When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
38Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Note esp. vv.33-35 and 38.
So, if Jesus is God & man then God was moved and God cried. Why? v.33 because those around him are hurting.
Jesus is not the rigid, stoic figure of popular culture.
Jesus/God cried (John 11:35), Jesus/God danced as all rabbis did before they taught the Scriptures in the synagogue (Luke 4:16ff), Jesus/God joked (Matthew 7:3), he was tempted as we are (Hebrews 4:15), and He died (Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46 and John 19:30).
God feels! And he promises never to leave us.
Thus, Jesus doesn’t just suffer for us, he suffers with us. He doesn’t just watch us. He walks with us. Kanye got that right, at least.
God is closer to a father whose children’s pain is felt deeply in His own person.
Eli Wiesel, a holocaust survivor, wrote in his book Night about a young boy that was hung by the Nazi guards in front of the whole camp and took nearly a half-hour to die. “Where is God?” Wiesel asked and a voice within him said, “Here He is – He is hanging here on these gallows.”
God walks with us and when we hurt, He hurts.
One day, Jesus will fix everything. He will wipe away every tear but until then He sheds them for us.