Together in Christ: 'Anger and Grief' — John 11:33

Friday, December 15, 2023

When Jesus saw [Mary, the sister of Martha] weeping [at the death of their brother, Lazarus] and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within [Jesus], and he was deeply troubled.
— John 11:33 NLT

Key Thought

Nothing rips our hearts like death stealing someone precious to us. Jesus came to help us deal with our fear of death, [1] and give us life beyond death. [2] Unfortunately, however, until Jesus returns and defeats every enemy, including death, [3] we have to deal with death and its awful and painful consequences.

Grief is hard. Death's impact is brutal and unrelenting. Our loss can sometimes feel unbearable. Like Martha and Mary, we sometimes want to scream at Jesus and say, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."  [4] Jesus' "deep anger" and His being "deeply troubled"  [5] remind us of Jesus' hatred of death and what it does to us. Jesus' weeping shows His empathy and love for Martha, Mary, Lazarus, and us when we lose someone to death. [6]

Even in the most profound grief, we know that Jesus has been where we find ourselves. He lost loved ones to grief and experienced the anger, pain, and loss we experience. Yet in the middle of our grief, we can also say the words of Martha that indicated she believed that Jesus could bring something good out of her brother's death: "But even now I know... Despite our grief, we cling to our faith in a Lord Who has conquered death and Who promises us:

"I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?"  [7]

Yes, Lord, we believe, but in our grief, help our unbelief!

[1] Hebrews 2:14-18.
[2] John 11:25-26; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
[3] 1 Corinthians 15:24-26.
[4] John 11:21, 32.
[5] The words used to describe Jesus' emotions are strong, visceral words to show His anger and being greatly disturbed in spirit — John 11:33, 38.
[6] John 11:35.
[7] John 11:25.

Today's Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for providing us a doorway beyond death to life with You, forever. Father, we thank You for Your plan and the power of the Holy Spirit in us that assures us of our resurrection. In our deep grief, I am thankful to know that Jesus experienced the deep emotions of loss, hurt, and anger at the death of His friend and its impact on Lazarus' sisters. I am comforted to know that I can feel those emotions, too. I ask, dear God, that You help strengthen me to believe beyond the losses of those I love, and I look forward to a great reunion with them and with You forever. In Jesus' name, I rejoice and give thanks for resurrection. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • John 11:1-44
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18


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Illustration of John 11:33 NLT — When Jesus saw [Mary, the sister of Martha] weeping [at the death of their brother, Lazarus] and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within [Jesus], and he was deeply troubled.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.