The Day Before Jesus’ Final Week

The day before Jesus’ last visit to Jerusalem He dealt with death on a broad scale at the tomb of His dear friend Lazarus.

Jesus’ response at the death of His friend Lazarus gives insight into His attitude regarding sin and death. The story is recorded in John 11: 17 – 45.

When Jesus arrived in Bethany from Jericho, He was greeted by Mary and “…He saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in His spirit and was troubled. (John 11: 33)

How did Jesus react to the death of someone He loved? 

“Jesus wept.”  (11: 35) It’s the shortest verse of the Bible. The expression means He cried deeply.  He didn’t just get misty eyed…Jesus wept.  He was sad.

In the face of death, Jesus didn’t only cry. He had a second reaction, He got angry. Yes, Jesus got mad.  Jesus was “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” (11:33)  “Deeply moved” translates the Greek word embrimaomai. (Embre-my-o-my)

NLT translates it: “a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.”

For emphasis it is said three times in John 11 that Jesus was angry. Two of the words are the same, and they are the strongest Greek words for furious indignation. The expression uses a pictorial word that literally means “to snort.” It is a metaphor. A metaphor is a term for something it isn’t. Some athletic metaphors are: “the team was hungry,” “they were on fire,” “the team cooled off,” and “the play blew up.” Metaphors appear elsewhere in the Bible, such as, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. (II Timothy 4: 7)

The Greek word used in the account is a metaphor which was used to depict the fury of a warhorse about to charge into battle. The steed rears up on his hind legs, snorts through its nostrils, an expression for fury, paws the air, and charges into the conflict. To snort in spirit was the strongest Greek word for anger. It is the word used of Jesus. Face to face with evil, in this premature death of His good friend, He is outraged. Why? Jesus was angry and troubled at the destruction and power of the great enemy of humanity: death. Jesus would soon break the dominating power of death. Evil is not normal. As the Creator Jesus made the world good, beautiful, full of life, joy, and justice. Evil despoiled these. 

About what was Jesus angry? Summarily His anger was at Satan for introducing evil into the world. He was angry over sin because it produced death. James 1:15 notes “…sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

He was angry with death because of the grief death brought. His anger was because of these four combined factors. His holy indignation was so strong He snorted. The term applied to humans is a metaphor for anger.

His response resulted in two emotions, sorrow, He wept, and anger, He snorted. Action followed.

As a precursor for His soon to be final encounter with these interlopers to what life was intended to be, Jesus was about to take action to overcome them.

He overcame death when “He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’” (11:43)

Jesus’ snort, that is His anger at Lazarus’ grave, was to be followed a few days later when He charged into His final conflict and overcame sin, death, and the grave by His sinless death and bodily resurrection. In doing so He overcame the four evils introduced into the world by Satan, which caused Him to express his sorrow by weeping, and His anger, by snorting.

All that because He loves you.