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Weekly Devotion – John 11:38

By Mike Caton

John 11:38, Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.

John tells us that when Jesus came to the tomb, he was once more deeply moved. What exactly does that mean? Our first thought might be to go back to what had happened just a few verses earlier. In verse 33, we see that Jesus was deeply moved and troubled and then we see him weeping. Were those emotions of grief again overcoming him? Was his heart broken over the sadness and loss that these sisters and many friends felt over Lazarus? Maybe he sheds a few more tears here, standing outside of the tomb of his good friend. That would be entirely natural and possible.

But the Greek word has a little different meaning; it is from a word that means to snort with anger; to be moved with anger, to admonish sternly. It is only used five times in the New Testament: twice here, where it is translated deeply moved. Once in Matthew 9:30 where he “sternly warned” two blind men he had healed not to tell anyone and again in Mark 1:43 where he “sternly warned” a man healed of leprosy not to tell what had happened. And then once in Mark 14:5 where the woman anointed Jesus’s feet with the expensive perfume and she was scolded or harshly rebuked by those present. So, was Jesus angry or upset here? Maybe he was upset because of the pain death brought into the world. But the death was simply a result of something much deeper. Death came into the world in regard to sin. Man was created by God in the Garden of Eden to live with God forever, eating from the tree of life. But sin broke all of that up. Man rebelled and was banished from the garden, and many bad things began to happen as a result of man’s sin. Death is simply one of them. Perhaps Jesus was upset over the work that Satan and sin had done in the world, to the people that he had created, to the people he loved, to the people he was coming to save. And maybe we ought to have that same thought, that same outrage over sin. But far too often, we tend to downplay sin, overlook it, justify it.

It could have been both of those thoughts affecting Jesus here. Both the sadness of the loss of his friend Lazarus and the pain it was causing to the people who loved him and the reason for the death; sin and the rejection of God. It is possible to feel both of those at the same time. And in fact, maybe we ought to feel more anger, more outrage over the sin that has become so prevalent in our society today. We might wonder what we, as one person can do, to turn the tide. In a big sense, the answer might be not much. But on a personal level, we can live our life rejecting sin, we can encourage others to reject the wrong and choose the right, we can make a huge differences in our little part of the world. And that is what God calls us to do.

Father, help me be moved with anger over sin. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Mike Caton is the preacher at Mount Olive Church of Christ in Belhaven. He volunteers at the Ponzer Fire Department and works part time with Hyde County EMS. If you would like to receive daily devotions in your inbox, email mikecaton@centurylink.net.

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