Perhaps they had spent hours together swapping stories and experiences, carpenter stuff like mortise and tenon joints. Maybe Lazarus was pretty handy with tools too.
Whatever the history, when the Master stood before the tomb, my Bible simply says, "Jesus wept." The Life-giver stood in the presence of death, overcome with great, racking sobs.
I wonder if He felt that pain when my friend Jere died, or when your spouse, your child, your father or mother, your dearest friend took their last breath? I'm pretty sure He did, because there at Lazarus' tomb He saw the weight of all that would happen in the days, years and centuries to come. He saw pain and suffering extended almost beyond what He could bear.
That's why He wept. He didn't cry for Lazarus. He cried for us.
He cried for everyone who, in the crosshairs of a sinful world, has discovered suffering is no respecter of persons. Our Creator wept because He understood.
I don't know why Jesus immediately raised Lazarus and not Jere, or why a reprieve is granted to some but not others. But I do know where to direct my anger in this great cosmic controversy—not at the Man with the tears on His face, but to the loser back in the shadows, the one with the evil grin whose time is running short.
And I do know sleep is not the worst thing when you're confident the morning will bring renewed energy and hope of victory.
Jere e-mailed me a day or so before he died. He'd been suffering with chemo-related side effects, but was hopeful. "We took a beautiful drive in nature last Sabbath," he said. "I would love to be able to do that again."
The fall colors he saw that Sabbath are mostly gone now. The branches are bare, in protective mode, conserving strength for the winter ahead. If I didn't know about the coming spring, I'd be sad. But I believe the promise of new life paid in full by the Man who wept. I'm guessing Jere will be one of the first up when the divine alarm clock rings at the crack of a better dawn, ready to cash in those frequent flier miles for a stellar ride in nature.
The words to an old song play in my mind: "Rest, rest for the weary, peace, peace to the soul. Though life may be dreary, earth is not thy goal..." I think of Immanuel, who wanted to be with us, so we could be with Him.
And I say a prayer, thanking God that Jesus wept.
Sleep is not the worst thing when you're confident the morning will bring renewed energy and hope of victory.