Thursday, April 12, 2007

Its my religion, I can cry if I want to.

Zach Johnson said something in his interview after winning the Masters that got the attention of the Christian Blogging commuity. At Think Christian there is some dialog about how Zach Johnson briefly mentioned his Christian faith. They were referring to the blog called Redeeming Prufrock where Ben Humphries suggests that when Zach Johnson said "I was not alone out there. Jesus was with me every step of the way." that CBS cut him off and did not ask any more follow up questions. He also noted that "His voice broke, and he cried."

You can see the actual interview here and a longer interview at his Jacket presentation here. You can judge for yourself if CBS cut him off or discounted his expressions about his faith. And a more humerous look at Zach Johnson reading the top 10 things I can say now that I have won the masters list on the Letterman Show

What I really wanted to look at is the emotions that bring about tears. Tears are often associated with deep spiritual experiences or transformations. There are tears of sorrow, tears of relief and tears of joy. There are probably all kinds of connections with tears.

When I was younger there seemed to always be this question when we had Bible quiz competitions or Bible baseball games at church school. The question was, "What is the shortest verse in the Bible?" The answer generally given is John 11:35 in which the verse says, "Jesus wept." (On a side note Job 3:2 is technically shorter in English and says, "He said,") This verse is associated with the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

In this story Jesus is sent word that Lazarus is sick and asked if He would come quickly to heal him. The message said, "Lord, the one you love is sick." The narrative says that instead of going right away, Jesus stayed where he was for 2 more days before traveling to where his friends were. When He arrived Lazarus had been dead for 4 days and eventually Lazarus' sister Mary came to meet him and she was weeping. When Jesus saw this, He was deeply moved in His spirit. It is at this point that "Jesus wept."

Now, there are all kinds of theological reflections on this point and why Jesus was weeping. In some he was weeping because of their lack of faith and they didn't understand that He had the power to raise the dead. In some this proved that Jesus was a man with bodily functions. In others He is weeping for Lazarus because he has to come back from Paradise.

While there is no way to prove if this story actually happened there are a number of things to draw from this narrative. It certainly addresses the fear and loss that come from death. What hits me on a more personal level is that from the book of John its clear that Jesus knows that he is going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He doesn't seem to be in a hurry to point this out when He arrives. In fact, He takes time to weep with Mary and the others with her. The author of the book of John seems anxious to point out the lack of faith on the part of the Jews who were there.

And yet it seems that it was important for Jesus to weep with Mary, even though He knows that He will bring back her brother to her in a few moments. Maybe there is something to be gained from grief that is important. Maybe weeping is part of what comes before being raised from the dead. Maybe something far more complex and profound happens in that moment that Jesus connects with Mary than all the theological explanations that follow. Its seems clear that Jesus was moved to act, not from a need to explain, but from his connection with Mary and her sorrow.

In this world today, I believe that if we would connect with each others sorrows we would act quite differently. We might be able to raise ourselves and others from the dead.

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