Without a doubt John 11:35 (“Jesus wept.”) is a favorite of all of us who struggle with Scripture memorization. Pretty much one time thru and we are guaranteed of earning the coveted gold star.
Yes, Jesus wept … but why?
Was He weeping because Lazarus had been dead for four days? Certainly I can provide no definitive answers to any of these questions I will pose here … what I offer are simply one man’s thoughts.
To me it seems unlikely he is weeping because Lazarus is dead. Note what Jesus said in John 11:4 when first told Lazarus was sick:
“This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
And let’s face it before this biblical account ends … Lazarus has been brought from death back to life.
It could be said that Jesus wept because of the disappointment He saw or sensed emanating from Mary, Martha and the community as a result of His delay in responding to their messenger regarding the illness of their brother Lazarus. Not only did He not respond while Lazarus was still alive … he didn’t show up to their house until their brother had been in the grave four days. But personally … I doubt this is why Jesus wept.
Perhaps he had foreknowledge or envisioned how Caiaphas and the Pharisees would respond to the miracle of Lazarus being raised for the dead. Their response as revealed in John 11:45-53 and especially verse 53 (So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.) is beyond belief from so many angles and perspectives. And while its certainly possible, I doubt that caused Jesus to weep.
No, I think the answer is found in the following passage …
When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” JESUS WEPT. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
I think the Jew’s conclusion that Jesus wept because of how he loved Lazarus could certainly be possible. But perhaps … just perhaps … it was more about who Jesus was weeping with …
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 (ESV)
The weeping of Mary, the weeping of the Jews, is what deeply moved Jesus to the point of weeping … Jesus shared in their sorrow … Jesus shared in their mourning ….
Even though Jesus knew that there would be much celebration shortly as the currently dead Lazarus would walk out of the grave alive … and through that miracle the Son of God and His Father would both be glorified.
Perhaps a bit confusing … and then again probably not.
And there is a lesson in there specifically for me in this challenging time of my life … but this post is already going a bit long … so perhaps tomorrow …
Be blessed in the love of Christ Jesus my friends!