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Multiple catastrophes in Japan

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Come and see.”Jesus wept.      John 11: 32-35

 

The human tragedy – the huge toll of death – is unfolding in Japan before a startled and horrified world.

 

This is absolutely awful.

 

The rendering into a fungible mass of rubbish of all the homes, assets, personal possessions, shops, offices, cars and factories is terrifying enough. But what we don’t see is worse. The people, human beings like us in Jersey, who are gone – gone forever last Friday afternoon (their time).

 

In bold above is just one reaction to the tragedy of death. Mary’s brother, four days earlier, had been taken ill, had died and had been placed in the grave almost immediately. Jesus, a personal friend of the two sisters and their brother back there near Jerusalem around AD 30, is effectively accused by Mary. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

 

We may do the same, faced as we are with both certainty and uncertainty at the same time. We’re certain that a huge number have died – irrevocably – and we’re uncertain how many more will soon die. With horror we watch. And weep.

 

“Jesus wept” is the shortest sentence in John’s biography of Jesus Christ, Son of Man, Son of God. And it’s the shortest sentence in the whole Bible – the Bible that spans at least 2,000 years and that all speaks of Jesus.

 

But this isn’t the only incident where Jesus is confronted by death. Another biographer of Jesus Christ – Luke, a first century physician – records this.  Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

 

For me, for Richard Syvret, I think that the most awful thing about the multiple deaths in Japan as well as the multiple deaths in the fall of the Tower of Siloam around AD 30 is the truth stated by Jesus that none of these folk were any guiltier than I am. On the guilt scale we are alike.

 

Why then did Jesus weep over the death of Mary’s brother? Why was he “deeply moved in his spirit”? Why was he so “greatly troubled”?

 

Take a closer look at the words in bold above. Sandwiched in between (1) “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” and (2) “Jesus wept” are two amazing sentences that give me hope, real hope, certainty in fact, in this awful mess.

 

Jesus wants to be taken to the dead brother. He’s going to do something about all this.

 

He really, really is going to do something about all this.......

 

He weeps with us – but he does something fantastic about it.

 

I feel absolutely helpless here in Jersey with regard to death and impending death in Japan.

 

But may I introduce you (I can’t do so directly to those suffering folk in Japan) to the man who said to Lazarus’ other sister, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet he shall live, and everyone who lives and believes in me, shall never die.

 
‘Death surprises us in the midst of our hopes.’ (Thomas Fuller, Writer, 1608-1661)
 
Just as the tree cut down, that falls / To north or southward, there it lies; / So man departs to heaven or hell, / Fixed in the state wherein he dies.´(Isaac Watts, English hymn writer, 1674-1748)
 
Richard Syvret

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