Jesus wept

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the story in John 11:1-44:

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that [Lazarus] was sick…He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” …Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”

…Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, …[and] said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died…” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

…Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

…Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

Jesus wept. Those words used to puzzle me. He had already said he was glad he was not there to prevent Lazarus from dying, because he wanted his disciples to see the miracle. The others were crying because Lazarus was dead, but Jesus already knew he was going to raise him from the dead. So why was he crying? As I read the Bible more, I see more of the deep love of God revealed in passages such as this.

I don’t know what the scholarly opinion is on this verse, but I believe Jesus was crying because of the very existence of death in the world. Sure, he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead this time, but Lazarus and everyone else was eventually going to die. God never wanted death and suffering to enter the world. It was Adam and Eve’s sin that separated them from God and brought death to them and their descendents.

No, Adam and Eve did not thwart God’s plans with their sin. God knew they were going to sin before he created them, and he already had a plan to redeem mankind. He would send his only begotten Son into the world as a human to die in our place.

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. (Romans 5:18)

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6 Responses to “Jesus wept”

  1. Kansas Bob says:

    Nice thoughts Casey!

  2. Isaiah says:

    That’s one of my favorite accounts, and I quite like Matthew Henry’s commentary on it as well.

  3. casey says:

    What did Matthew Henry say about it?

  4. Rick Rouse says:

    I believe you’re right about Jesus weeping because of the existence of death on earth, but I also believe it also hurt Him deeply to see His friends Martha and Mary in such emotional pain over Lazarus’ death. Jesus was, and still is the very picture of love, and when you love someone you weep along with them in their sorrows.

    Even though Jesus was happy to have the opportunity to raise Lazarus from the dead as a reminder of His greatness, he was still greatly disturbed that Mary and Martha had to endure the death of Lazarus in the first place. Just my take on it…

  5. Custard says:

    Yes, in general I agree, though I think Rick’s point is helpful too. There’s a genuine pain not just at the general existence of death but at this specific instance of it. When Lazarus’s sister says “come see the place where they laid him”, how would a normal human say that about the grave of their recently dead brother? And how would Jesus as a man respond?

    At the very least this is an example of “weeping with those who weep”. It may well also show that even Jesus as the God-Man is affected differently when things are brought home like that. It’s a wonderful verse to use at funerals, in part because it proclaims that God truly is with us.

  6. Bryant says:

    I agree with Rick. I think Christ weeps over sin but also over our pain. Every time I attend a funeral I hurt for those left behind but also because of what Satan has done to our world.

    But I think your thoughts are excellent!