Posted by: pmarkrobb | October 31, 2014

I know

I closed my eyes, smiled wryly and let out a deep sigh when I looked ahead in the schedule to confirm the daily reading for today (John 11:28-37).  It was early in the week, and I had been given the opportunity to write today’s post.  I wanted to begin digesting the passage and see if there was any initial bit of resonance that I could begin to explore.  I have become so mindful of God’s presence in the details of my life.  Sometimes I chuckle or blurt out a full belly laugh when I’m standing and waiting or casually walking along and the Spirit goes on ahead of me and throws open the door to what God has for me next.  Have you experienced God’s “sense of humor” or deep intentionality before?  Maybe you’d nod in agreement with the reaction I described above.

So, here’s the source of that reaction … I am grieving the loss of a dear and treasured friend a month to the date last Sunday, and wouldn’t you know that my first opportunity to write since her passing is the story of the death of Jesus’ dear friend Lazarus.  I guess the Spirit just walked a few steps ahead of me and threw open another door.  And now I will step through it in His power.  God is so good.

There are a couple of events within the larger narrative of Jesus’ life which have had repeated and lasting impact on my life.  Within those events there are two specific intimate moments and “mysteries” which have long fascinated me.  Our reading today possesses one of those mysteries.  Another happened a couple of chapters back in the book of John during a monumental moment of confrontation in the story of an adulterous woman who was about to be stoned.

A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”  They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.
John 8:2-6 (NLT)

What did He write?!  What was the word(s)?!  Oh, to have been there to experience that moment of unadulterated and saturating forgiveness.  That story is one of my favorites, and I would so love to know what Jesus wrote in the dust.

I have a similar longing with one of the details of today’s story.  Namely, to know the true source of Jesus’ “deep anger” with the mourners gathered near the tomb of Lazarus.  As the story goes, Mary runs to, and reaches Jesus.  She falls at His feet and unknowingly repeats the words her sister spoke just a short time before.  “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32b)  I think we can all hear our own thoughts and words in the one’s Martha and Mary cried out to Jesus.  Then John continues in verse 33…

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. (NLT)

A deep anger wells up within Jesus as He surveys the scene.  In researching, I found moving imagery in this phrase that the NIV translates as “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” The Greek word translated in the NIV as “deeply moved” is “embrimasthai.” It is apparently used in Classical Greek for a horse snorting.  Those of you who know horses or have been around a highly agitated one, will have a clear understanding and vivid picture of the emotion which welled up inside of Jesus in that moment.

There are several suggestions given by scholars as to the source of Jesus’ anger.  I tend to lean in one particular direction, having given the question some thought before seeking out those scholars.  I think I’ll leave my own thoughts unspoken, however, in the spirit of John not speaking to it himself.  Perhaps certain words written in dust and emotions welled up within the heart of the Savior have been left for us to consider more deeply in our personal conversations and daily walk with God.

One meaningful thought I will choose to share, which has been a great encouragement to me and which I pray will also be of encouragement to you, is Jesus’ choice to stop and grieve the very real separation from His dear friend.  I believe this choice is also echoed much later in the garden as Jesus sweats blood while crying out to his Father, “if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me.” (Luke 22:42 NLT)  I have come to believe “this cup” is the separation He knows He must endure as the final price of His redeeming work – a very real separation from the Father in His last three hours on the cross.  In these moments of deep grief, Jesus mourns separation.  I am experiencing this right now in the loss of my dear friend.

In two powerfully intimate moments, Jesus stops and grieves loss.  In doing so, He enters the very personal space of my own grief and says, “I know.”  That knowing far surpasses an intellectual association with my season of grief.  Jesus doesn’t just “get” what I am going through, He joins me in it.  He knows my specific suffering.  He looks at me when I say “but Jesus, Lisa” and says, “Mark … Lazarus.”

My dear friends, don’t miss this monumental moment as you check off the task of your daily reading today.  I know the temptations or fatigue that can surface in a discipline of reading daily, but please don’t miss this today.  The very voice of the One who spoke creation into being, speaks the words “I know” into my heart today … into your heart today.  If you are suffering or grieving, Scripture (and even the rocks) cry out that Jesus is truly “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief!” (Isaiah 53:3)

He knows.

He cares.

He joins you today.


a short note before going …  I hope you will consider reaching out to us if there is some portion of suffering that we can join you in today.  We cannot be all that Jesus can, but we can certainly lift you up to Him and join you in a space where you might be convinced no one else stands with you.  We will.  And in doing so, we pray that it shouts to you that “He does!”


  1. Thanks!! It seems that some of the deeper things “He knows” are only known by us in those moments, or seasons, where they directly apply to our Life at the time. No academic preparedness in advance. No ability to fully share them with another after. A knowing that is received with great inner joy, worship and praise – a knowing in return. A knowing that words cannot express. Jesus, thank You so much for sharing Yourself with us in this way. No big show, announcement, crowd gathering or video recording. But rather an intimate, personal, enveloped one to one exchange (communion) with You alone. That is amazing grace! Amazing love! Amazing sincerity! Thanks for sharing the amazement of our Father with us! 🙂 Thank You

    “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.” (John 5:20 NIV)

    Enjoy this day He has made, journey onWord. 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing Sorry for your loss
    Give Glory to God !

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