I think it is the case that most of our knowing comes through asking questions. From our earliest days as children, when we wanted to know something, we asked questions of our parents: “Mom, what is the moon made of?” “Dad, how do birds fly?” “Mom, where do babies come from?” “Dad, how do you build a fire?” Our questions lead us on to answers that help us to know.
But some questions seem unanswerable: Why did God allow that man to have colon cancer? Why did God take that woman when she was still relatively young? Why didn’t God heal when so many people were praying? Does God even know and care about our sorrows, grief, and pain?
I think there is some measure of comfort that the Bible encourages us to ask these questions by presenting us with people who have the same types of questions. For instance, the scene in John 11—the events connected with Lazarus’ death and resurrection—is filled with people asking such questions.
Why didn’t Jesus come to heal Lazarus? Three times, the text implicitly asks that question (vv. 21, 32, 37). That question is present because the people believed—just as we believe—that Jesus has the ability to heal. Now, Bible readers already know the answer to the question, because Jesus had already said—“It is for the glory of God” (v. 4) and “So that you might believe” (v. 15). In other words, Jesus didn’t heal Lazarus because not healing him would further God’s glory and His disciples’ salvation.
Such an answer may calm our minds, but it doesn’t soothe our aching hearts. It raises a second question found in John 11: Does Jesus care about our grieving? The answer from the text is that He does care; in fact, He cares deeply. He was stirred (vv. 33, 38)—deeply moved in His spirit, greatly troubled, agitated, and angry—because of His friend’s death. Also, He sorrowed (v. 35)—He wept, He burst into tears, He cried with those who were crying. He cared and continues to care for those who weep tears of heartbreak, loss, and grief.
Thankfully, though, Jesus’ caring doesn’t end with tears. In answer to the final question that this text asks—Can Jesus do anything about our dying?—the Bible gives a glorious affirmative. Not only did Jesus promise that “everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (v. 26), He gave a demonstration of His power by raising Lazarus from the dead. He said and showed that He is “the resurrection and the life.”
So, we can bring our questions to this Jesus because He offers us a definitive answer. Thanks be to God, even though our hearts fill with questions in our sorrows, we look forward to the day when He once again will shout, “My children, come out!” And we will rise, body and soul together, made whole, made new, with no more tears or questions.