Muhammad Wept?

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

—Gospel of John

Today’s issue of the “irresponsible newspaper,” featuring the caption, “All is forgiven”:charlie cover

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  1. OK, somebody explain this to me.

    I went to the NT John 11, 17-43. It’s about raising Lazarus from the dead and the story is non-sensical to me. Jesus intentionally stayed away from Lazarus while he was dying and after making sure that he was thoroughly dead (he had begun to smell after 4 days), returned to raise him back to life as a demonstration of God’s power through him. (The Mary here, one of many in the NT, is Lazarus’ sister.) So, if this was all a planned demonstration, why the weeping? And, what’s the analogy on Charlie’s cover? I guess I’m dense.


    • Sorry, Jim, it has taken so long to get back to you.

      You are right about the Lazarus story. It is quite non-sensical. But there’s a reason for that. The Gospel of John, written later than the other three gospels, is clearly a theological examination of “The Christ” and his alleged divinity, as opposed to a strictly historical accounting of the life of Jesus. Thus this Lazarus story is told to make a theological point: Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” and “the one who believes” in him “will live, even though they die.” That’s the reason for this story and the fact that it doesn’t make much sense otherwise was of little concern to the writers.

      Jesus, if he had the powers attributed to him, didn’t have to let Lazarus die. He could have healed him at a distance, as he did to someone else on at least one other occasion. And rather than weep, he could have simple laughed and told everyone: “Cheer up! I just made Lazarus well! Let’s celebrate!” But he didn’t. It was, as you said, a demonstration, and a rather cruel one at that. He intentionally made Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, go through a traumatic event in order to prove that he had the power to raise people from the dead, which made the theological point that he is the savior and that he was sent by God. So, all these people were used as props in a theological play.

      As for the Hebdo cover, when I first saw it I was, like a lot of people, of two minds about whether it was sincerity or satire. I immediately thought of the passage of Jesus weeping over a dead Lazurus, as it appeared that Muhammad was weeping over dead Parisians. Then I decided that the weeping Muhammad, especially with a caption “All is forgiven” over his head, was a bit of a farce, meant to say: This religious nonsense is totally absurd.

      In any case, it is also absurd to think that Jesus, if he were a compassionate God who was “deeply moved,” would go through all the theatrics of having a man suffer and die and lay dead for four days, decaying, while his family members were grieving, it turns out, unnecessarily. A man, or God, of compassion wouldn’t use people as pawns in a larger cosmic game, would he?

      You might noticed that I ended my quotation from John with two opposing interpretations of Jesus’ actions:

      Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

      But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

      I think that beautifully illustrates the ambiguity in that Charlie Hebdo cover, as well as how hard it is to figure out what really motivates people, cartoonists or prophets.



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