No Cheerful Graffiti On the Tomb of Our Sorrow

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

At the tomb of Lazarus.

John 11.38-40Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Verse 38 recalls that Jesus was greatly disturbed. If Jesus was greatly disturbed at Lazarus’ tomb, can you imagine his grief at the death of thousands of people with the corona virus?

The Bible is clear: Jesus knows the name of every person on the earth, including their hopes, dreams, suffering and more. He is grieving along with all of humanity during this pandemic, just as he grieves over war, poverty, displaced persons, human pride, evil and corruption.

Progress, not perfection

Earlier in the chapter, Martha used three titles to describe Jesus as the Messiah (verse 27). Now, she is concerned about the stench of her brother’s dead body (verse 39). What’s up? Where did her faith go?

Praise God! Jesus never required perfect faith. Mustard-sized faith will do.

Matthew 17.20Jesus said, “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Let’s take courage. None of us can claim perfection. If we are making progress in our faith, we can make ourselves available to God at this time. Let’s stand beside our Savior at the tomb of the world’s suffering and join him in his ministry.

Coach Jake Taylor has been reading the book of James. I am following his example and reading it too. If we want to join Jesus in his ministry to the world, we can read James and do what is being taught in that book. In simple words, let’s do everything the book of James tells us to do and see the results.

What do we learn when we listen to Jesus pray?

John 11.41-42 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.”

Jesus’ prayer was another example of his complete submission to the Father’s will.

As I have written several times, Jesus’ complete submission to the Father is a central theme of John’s Gospel. John 5.19 summarizes how Jesus was able to live such an amazing kind of life.

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5.19).

Once again, Jesus never acted apart from the Father’s direction. He wanted to crowd at the tomb to know this fact of his life.

If we want to live the Jesus-kind-of-life, we will also find ourselves imitating Jesus’ submission to the Father’s will. Let’s strive to both know and do the will of the Father.

No cheerful graffiti, just life!

John 11.43-44 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

A book on suffering I read a few years back said, “Don’t write cheerful graffiti on the tomb of someone’s suffering.” People don’t need a lot of talk at their time of suffering. We are better off just weeping with those who weep (Romans 12.15).

If Jesus had written something over Lazarus’ tomb, it would have been giant, bold print, “Lazarus, come out!” That’s exactly what Lazarus did.

We do have hope to share with grieving people, when they are ready to receive it. We give them hope, but our hope is not a mere “hope so.” We have genuine confidence based in what Jesus has done. Besides what the Bible says about life-after-our-life on earth, we have the experience of the Holy Spirit.

The first chapter of Second Corinthians addresses suffering. Towards the end of the chapter we read, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge” (2 Corinthians 1.21-22).

The presence of the Holy Spirit has put God’s stamp on us that we belong to God. Transformed lives are evidence of the Spirit’s presence. The current reality of our life with God through the Holy Spirit is a pledge that heaven is real.

Your Turn

As we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection power, let’s stand with Jesus beside the tomb of some of our world’s people. Today, please pray with Beth and others for Africa. (Note, I am only using her first name for security purposes.)

I asked Beth, who has spoken a few times at Maywood, how I could pray for her friends in Africa. If you don’t know Beth, she is a dedicated servant of God who has been bringing God’s light and love to countries in Africa.

Beth noted that during the current corona virus lock-down in one country, life is more harsh than normal. People can’t store food and have to dodge robbers and the military when they sneak out to get their daily provision of food.

Many live in a single room in a compounds with one common charcoal fire for cooking. They have only one toilet to share with the others in the compound and running water is limited. Medical care for people in the slums is virtually non-existent.

Jesus, our Savior, knows the name of every person in the area Beth has described for us. He knows their hurts, fears, dreams and desires. Let’s join together with Beth and Jesus (who always lives to make intercession – Hebrews 7.25) and pray God’s light and love and health for Beth’s friends in Africa.

Today’s Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank you for the privilege of living where we have running water, soap and face masks. Thank you for such things as food, housing and medical care. We turn our attention to the people of Africa. We ask that you have mercy on this continent and spare the lives of the people from the corona virus. May you work miracles that reveal your character to the world.


  1. No graffiti on the tomb, just life! I think it’s important that we put some condition on that life. We can’t just live ‘our’ life we must live Jesus’s life that He has called us to.

    Liked by 1 person

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