Let’s reflect a bit more on Jesus’ encounter with Lazarus. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus “groaned in spirit.” Jesus’ trouble here is the result of his identification with sinful humanity. He goes all the way to the bottom of it, letting its truth affect him. Jesus does not just love us abstractly or from a distance; no, he comes close to us. More to the point, this groaning of Jesus signals the pain that God feels at our imprisonment. If his glory is our being fully alive, his agony is our sin. How salvific it can be to listen to this groaning of the Lord at our own lack of life.
In the same vein, Jesus weeps for his friend. There is something heartbreaking about this for it is the only time in the Scripture that Jesus is described as weeping. Whatever form death takes in us—physical, psychological, spiritual—it is something deeply troubling to God.
One detail is particularly moving: Jesus asks, “Where have you laid him?” Sin alienates us from our God, making us strangers to him. Just as God in the book of Genesis looked for Adam and Eve who were hiding from him, so here God incarnate doesn’t know where his friend Lazarus is.
Then the Lord comes to the tomb. We hear that it was a cave with a stone laid across it. When things are dead, we bury them away, we hide them. When we feel spiritually dead, we lock ourselves up in the darkness of our own anxiety and egotism and fear. But there is a power, a divine power, sent into this world whose very purpose is to break through all such stones.
“Lazarus, come out!” Are there any words more beautiful and stirring in the whole New Testament? From whatever grave we are lying in, Jesus calls us out.