Now 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.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. (John 11:32-38)
It is hard to read John 11 and not get the impression—especially when you study the words carefully—that Jesus was bothered. Oh sure, he was heartbroken. He was moved to tears by all of the pain and suffering he witnessed around him, especially the sorrow of his dear friends, Mary and Martha. I believe it was the tears of these beloved sisters than moved him to tears himself.
But there is something more going on here. Jesus was bothered. You can especially see it in John’s use of the words “deeply moved” in verses 33 and 38. On the surface they look like nothing but sadness and sorrow, but underneath they communicate much more. The word used here in the Greek is embrimaomai, which literally means “to snort in indignation.” Jesus was indignant. He was not pleased. He was frustrated. Or, at the very least, he was really, really bothered. He was bothered to see his friends in great pain. And he was bothered again when the some of the onlookers said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
I guess the real question is: What, exactly, was Jesus bothered by? Was he bothered by the lack of faith being exhibited around him? Was he bothered by the way it caused those around him to question the goodness of his heart? Or was he bothered by the fact that "it didn’t have to be this way?" This (a world of death and suffering) was never his intention in the first place. And, who knows, maybe it was all of the above. All we do know is that Jesus was bothered. And you know what? I’m glad. Something deep within me wants a God who is bothered by death and suffering and sorrow and pain. I think being bothered is a necessary component of compassion.
You see, compassion is not just pity, or even empathy. Compassion is to be lovingly bothered. It is to love someone enough to be deeply affected by their hurt and pain, but also to be bothered enough to do something about it. To enter in somehow. Compassion is love in action. And it is the “bothered” part that keeps us from merely being heartbroken for someone, and moves us to action. Compassion, as it was in this case for Jesus, hates the effects of the fall, and moves in the direction of trying to reverse them (with God’s help) whenever possible. It is not merely being grieved about the world, but also being willing to do something about it. Jesus was filled with compassion, and wants us to be as well. What are you bothered about these days? How has it moved you toward loving action?
Lord Jesus, forgive me when I am not bothered by what I see around me and within me. Thank you that you were bothered; bothered enough to get involved in offering people the healing and the wholeness they desperately needed. Help me to do the same. Amen.
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