Good grief

In a famous scene in John 11, Jesus met his friends Mary and Martha outside the tomb of their brother Lazarus. Jesus knew what he was going to do. He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.

Two times, John tells us, Jesus was “deeply moved.”

The Greek word is embrimauomai. Matthew and Mark use the same word to mean “sternly warn” or “harshly rebuke.”

How can it also be used to describe Jesus in that moment?

Instead of being gleeful that he was about to raise his friend—vindicating his ministry and proving that he was one with God—Jesus was angry.

If death is “natural,” as some say, why are we in agony when we lose a loved one?

The only explanation is that Jesus—better than anyone who ever lived—knew how awful death really was. He didn’t create us to get sick, get old, get into accidents, and die. Death is a violation of the created order.

Three times John tells us that other people were present, having come to comfort Mary and Martha in their grief.

Simply being present is one of the most important ways that we help others process their grief. Yet for the last year and a half, much of our ability to process our grief has been limited by the pandemic.

In our Sunday, October 31st worship service we will offer up our prayers for our loved ones, especially those taken from us during the time when we weren’t able to be fully present for each other.

If you would like the name of your loved one to be part of the service, prayed over, and listed in the bulletin, please let us know. Call the church office at 412-471-3436 or email Hannah Durant at

In raising his friend Lazarus from the dead, Jesus set in motion the final events that led to the cross. Jesus doesn’t save us from suffering so much as he walks with us in suffering. And we do know this:

Jesus hates tombs. He didn’t stay in his own tomb very long.

He doesn’t want us to stay in ours either.

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