Jesus was the truest friend, but not the easiest. He had the ability to speak to people’s hearts with such force and wisdom that they felt exposed, even naked. Yet, despite feeling naked and ashamed, people wanted to be near Jesus because he loved deeply.
Jesus comforted the afflicted, but he also afflicted the comfortable. This explains why the “wrong sort” of people usually loved him: tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. And the “right sort” usually hated him: religious people and leaders. But not always. Even religious people (and leaders) came to love him; if they could endure the humiliation of being stripped of their self-righteousness (and self-reliance) and see their need of him.
Jesus loved with compassion and wisdom. He loved with an awareness of a person’s individual fears, desires, and personality.
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!” Martha cried out in frustration when Lazarus died. (See John 11:17-44)
From other accounts, Martha seems to be a thinker, not a feeler. This would explain why Jesus reasoned with her.
“Your brother will rise again.” Jesus said.
“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Martha said. But she wanted him back now! She missed him.
“I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus said. “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord.” Martha replied.
Martha believed in Jesus’ power over death, but she tended to see Jesus as a means to an end. When Jesus said, “everyone who believes in me shall never [really] die” he wanted Martha to change her perspective. Heaven would be heavenly not because it extended life forever, but because it reconnected people to life’s source — to Him. Until Martha was ready to see Jesus was the end, not merely a means to an end, she would never experience life to the fullest; even if she had her brother back from the dead that day (which she would).
Mary, Martha’s sister, approached Jesus saying the same thing, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!” But Mary’s grieving process was different. Unlike her sister, Mary was a feeler, not a thinker. Jesus knew the way to comfort her was not with reason but with tears. So, Jesus took the time to weep with Mary; even though he was about to raise Lazarus.
He loved each sister perfectly. He gave each exactly what she needed to feel loved and understood. We might assume that the really important thing was to physically restore their brother to them. But for Jesus, it was just as important to restore each sister emotionally and spiritually.
Jesus is the truest friend who knows how to comfort us in our pain. We can trust him to break through to us in exactly the way we need him. Unlike Mary and Martha, we may have to wait longer than several days to see God’s full power. But even if we have to wait until the final resurrection, we have a true friend to comfort us now.