How are we supposed to see other people?
Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, 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 came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. (John 11:32-35)
Mary, Martha and their companions in this epic story from the Gospel are aching; their hearts are broken. Why? Because they love their brother and it looks like death has conquered him. Love has overwhelmed them and fired their whole being. And in one of the most moving verses of Scripture we see what this ache, this yearning, this fire, this love actually does to Jesus: it moves him to tears.
Imagine Jesus crying. Now imagine Jesus, looking at you (probably with a little bit of a smile), being moved to tears by the love in your heart for your brothers and sisters. Envision the intense beauty of your love moving Jesus Himself to tears. Doesn’t that move you to tears? How often do we experience this love in our hearts for others – friends and strangers alike? How often do our hearts ache for the lost? If they don’t, then we need more of Jesus; we need more of the life of God in us, because this kind of love comes straight from the Father’s heart.
So, how are we supposed to see people? First of all, we see them with a love that burns and aches and electrifies our whole person.
But what does this love long for them to have?
The phrase ‘moved in spirit’ can also be translated ‘snorted in spirit,’ literally conveying the kind of disposition a rhino has as it’s about to charge. Jesus weeps, but he is also angry at Death and the hurt that it has caused His people.
Jesus hates death. A few chapters from the above passage, we see that He doesn’t stop short of annihilating it. But, what is fundamentally the root cause of death? St. Paul tells us that it is sin (Rom 6:20-23). The reign of death began with sin and it still produces death in our hearts to this day. It is the source of every evil, enslavement, horror and destruction we face. For this reason, Jesus’ destruction of death comes by way of His destruction of sin.
Let’s pull all of this together. Akin to the story of Lazarus, Jesus’ love for us moved him to defeat death by destroying the power of sin. Here’s the point: love always seeks the annihilation of sin. Shouldn’t our love look the same way? As we are moved by love for others – one that almost rips our heart in two – we should desperately desire that the power of sin be broken in their lives, that they accept the love of Jesus and thereby attain freedom as His disciples.
We can be awfully timid of admitting the reality and enslaving nature of sin in our lives and those of our family members, friends, coworkers, casual acquaintances, etc. But sin is a big deal! To ignore sin is to be un-loving! Friends don’t let friends become slaves and wear the chains of eternal death.
There is an impactful scene from the new movie Noah in which Noah stealthily ambles through a village that is utterly dominated by evil and the wickedness of man. It is jarring. It is really a portrayal of Hell, which really exists. As we watch such a scene (please do), how can our hearts not be broken knowing that some people must live there forever? How can we not weep with Mary and cry out to Jesus, “Lord, if you had only been here…” How can we not get on our knees and beg Him to save the people around us (and ourselves) from darkness, death and sin?
So, now the full answer: We are supposed to see others with a furiously burning love that seeks to bring others to Jesus so that He can save them from their sins. We ought to be like Mary and Martha in this passage – the heartbroken liaisons between Christ and those over whom death has a firm grip.
Does that desire for the lost burn in our hearts? Does it get us up in the morning? Do we hunger and thirst that others may come to meet Jesus and be saved from death? Please God give us the gift of this love!