Jesus Wept

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  • Jesus wept. – John 11:35

    John 11 records the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. John tells the story in a series of conversations. The passage begins with a conversation Jesus has with his disciples about the sickness and death of Lazarus. When he finally arrived in Bethany, Lazarus’ sister Marth confronted him. In the ensuing conversation, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Then Jesus talked with Lazarus’ other sister, Mary.

    Mary fell at the feet of Jesus, consumed with grief. Unlike his encounter at Jairus’ house, Jesus does not question the mourning of the grieving community (Mark 5:39). Here Jesus was “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” (John 11:33). 

    Jesus took charge of the situation, asking, “Where have laid him?” (John 11:34). They led Jesus to Lazarus’ tomb, where he would work a miracle. At this point, John reports a remarkable detail: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35 is one of the shortest verses in the Bible. The verse is short in words but long in meaning. It is an ocean of truth in a teaspoon of words. The weeping Jesus is a comforting truth. 

    Jesus wept as a man. John records seven miraculous “signs” that prove the deity of Jesus. Raising Lazarus from the dead is the final and climactic miracle Jesus performed that identifies him as God in the flesh. Yet the one who was God enough to raise the dead was man enough to weep with the grieving. Jesus was a real man. Jesus was a perfect man. Jesus was a divine man. Yet Jesus wept. When life makes you cry, you are in good company! 

    Jesus wept, despite what he knew. Well-meaning Christians say to the grieving, “Don’t cry. You knew where your loved one is.” Jesus knew Lazarus was in a place where sickness afflicted him no more. Yet Jesus wept at his graveside. Jesus also knew that the death of Lazarus would bring glory to the Father. Furthermore, Jesus knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Yet with all Jesus knew, he was still moved to tears by the situation.  

    Jesus wept as our example. We short-circuit our prayers because we do not pray candidly. We pray filter prayers rather than praying candidly. This is not how Jesus prayed. The Lord prayed to the Father with tears in his eyes. But he was not just weeping for himself. He cried with for and with others. The tears of Jesus remind us that it is not unspiritual to weep, grieve, and mourn. Christians do not sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). 

    Jesus wept because he cared. As Jesus wept, the people said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36) Jesus wept because he cared about the living – Mary and Martha. Jesus wept because he cared about the dead – Lazarus. Jesus wept because he cared about sin that causes pain, death, and death. The compassionate heart of Jesus has not changed. He cares for you! Peter bids us to be “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

    Jesus wept before he performed a miracle. Paul exhorts the saints to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15b). We can often do nothing more to comfort the hurting. Yet Jesus wept before he did something about the situation. Standing before a giant scoreboard that flashed “Death Wins,” Jesus declared himself to be Lord over life, death, and the afterlife (John 11:25-26). Death is no real threat to the one who trusts in Jesus.  

    At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus gave three commands. “Take away the stone” (John 11:39). “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43). “Unbind him, and let him go” (John 11:44). Lazarus was restored to life and became a walking testimony that of the difference Jesus makes. Christ is the Lord of life. 

    In resuscitating Lazarus, Jesus brought his dear friend back to a world of sin, suffering, and sorrow. He who is the resurrection and the life takes those who believe in a world where there is no more sin, despair, and suffering. There is the living hope in our risen Savior. Jesus cares for you. Jesus knows what he is doing. Jesus can help you. 

    After declaring that he is the resurrection and the life, Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe this?” (John 11:26) Jesus issues this call to personal, present-tense, and persevering faith to you and me. Do you believe?


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.