Pastor Joe Miller IV
During a lifetime, a person will have been lucky to cross paths with someone who represented the embodiment of Jesus. I can honestly say I’ve been blessed to have been influenced and loved by numerous people who have been a ‘Jesus’ to me. A number of friends, a couple of pastors, grandparents, a mom that loved me more than any other human possibly could, but it was my dad that was the Jesus in my life. My dad was the greatest example that God used to influence me. I wrote an article about my dad after he passed away on February 1, 1998, and the two verses I used were Matthew 25:35-36. My dad worked hard. We never had a lot of money growing up, but we always had everything we needed. He taught us kids how to fish as soon as we were able to walk, same with hunting and any other pastimes we had a desire to do, always setting aside his own success for our benefit. My dad always gave his most valuable possession, his time, always selflessly, never grudgingly. He didn’t just put us above his goals and desires, we were them. He taught and showed me how to be a good father, father-in-law, a good husband, a good friend, and a great pap. He taught me how to treat others despite the circumstances and always treat people with wisdom and love. I could tell you so many stories and testimonies of his example of being a godly man, but time and space won’t allow. He even was the best man at my wedding. Then one day, the most honorable man I ever knew who never smoked, drank, I never even heard a foul word come out of his mouth, found out at 58 years old that he had lung cancer. For the next nine months, he went from being the strongest man I’ve ever known to being physically depleted and passing into eternity. The last thing I remember him saying was, “I’ve loved you like Jesus loved me.”
There were so many lessons God used my dad to teach me and influence me, but one particular thing that I want to share with you was during the last days of my dad‘s life. The last nine months were so difficult, but during that time I would spend day and night with him talking not about just anything, but about life. His actions, words, grace, and faith made his passing almost okay. I had a peace I can’t explain that I thank God for, but not everyone that loved my dad was okay. I watched family and friends spending their last moments with my dad and saw their emotions and brokenness. I grieved not for myself, but for them. It reminded me of the compassion that Jesus had for Mary, Martha, and their Jewish comforters when their brother and Jesus‘ friend Lazarus had died in John 11. It wasn’t so much the fact that Lazarus had passed, because Jesus knew that it was for a purpose (John 11:4, 6, 11, 14-15, 23), but he was emotionally moved when he saw the ones that loved Lazarus broken and weeping because of their loss.
Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.
There are two emotions and feelings Jesus had. First, in verse 33, the phrase ‘groaned in the spirit’ meaning almost like in anger within him, a strong emotion driven by his hatred for death caused by sin in this world. When I look around and I see Christians' lives being affected by sin, broken marriages, alcohol, pornography, greed, you name it - it causes an anger within me, not so much against the individual, but against the sin that is present and destroying lives and families of the ones I love. We should all be like Jesus and have a hatred towards sin, that moves us to reach out to people and make a difference, and that is the second point.
Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
Jesus' love and compassion moved him. First: weep with them. (1 Corinthians 12:26) You will always feel the pain of loved ones. There should never be a ‘good for you, you deserve it’ attitude. Look in the mirror and remember where you came from. (Ephesians. 4:32) Second: make a difference. (John 11:43) We might not be able to raise loved ones from the dead or even change the situations that people find themselves in, but we can bear one another’s burdens and give godly advice and hope. (Galatians 6:1-2) With Jesus, there is ‘always hope’ so don’t quit and make a difference.