This question is one that has always stuck with me throughout my years of being a Christian. When I was new to my study of the Bible, this was one thing I couldn’t get around to understand: Jesus weeping. A few members of our family had a discussion about it last night, and (since Super Bowl LII was going on) I said, “Because the Patriots won.” Thankfully… they didn’t (what sweet providence it is too).
On a serious note, Jesus’ weeping was during the time of something very serious. His friend, Lazarus, was very sick, and Jesus was asked to come and heal him. Jesus didn’t come because He said this in John 11:4 (ESV), “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.” Two days later, His friend actually dies.
Jesus heard this news, and yet had no anguish. In fact, in John 11:11 (ESV), Jesus tells the disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” Christians who understand the Bible, and who have been granted the illumination by the Holy Spirit, will see this wonderful news. Jesus was going to fulfill His promise, and make sure that Lazarus’ sickness would not lead to death. Sadly, the disciples thought He was literally going to wake up a sleeping man, and they missed what Jesus was promising. This is the beginning.
What comes later in the text, is even more shocking in John 11:20-27 (ESV), ‘When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who 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 coming into the world.'” There are a few things to take notice of.
- Mary didn’t come to meet Jesus. The last time Jesus was at their house, Mary couldn’t get away from Jesus, now she is so disappointed in Him she doesn’t even want to see Him. That is actually very sad to me; how much more do you think this was sad to Jesus?
- Jesus repeatedly told Martha that He had the authority to raise a man from the dead. Every time Martha responded, she was missing the point. Jesus doesn’t merely get power from God; Jesus is God. Jesus had the power to resurrect Him, and He wanted to show the message of resurrection through this miracle. Yet, she didn’t listen.
- When He gave the Gospel, she responded with things that sounded good, but (as my father pointed out during our discussion last night) her jargon is not even what Jesus was talking about. She was only saying what she believed Jesus was, not what Jesus was claiming He was. She didn’t proclaim that He was the Giver of Life, the Savior, and the One whom all must have faith in to live eternally.
Keep in mind, Jesus repeatedly told everyone that Lazarus would be raised from the dead. He promised that his disease wouldn’t end in death, He said He was the resurrection, and He clearly made a case that He was God. Martha decides to go get Mary, telling her that Jesus is calling her (Jesus Calling, hehe… a topic for a different day). When Mary went out, what happened? The fellow Jews were in such a mindset of death (typical of the world), that when they saw Mary go out, they thought she was going to the tomb. So, naturally, they decide to follow Her to see Jesus.
Then, in John 11:32-37 (ESV), “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.“
Take notice that both of the sisters, when each of them met up with Jesus, questioned His will. They told Him how to do His job as a Healer. They questioned His sovereignty. Jesus looked and saw how people were grieving, having no hope in His power and authority, and He began to weep. So, why exactly did Jesus weep? Though an argument could be made that He cried out of grief for His friend’s death, I don’t buy it. Jesus already knew Lazarus was going to die. He definitely knew. Why else would He stress the fact that Lazarus would have life, before and after His death?
Who else knew, besides Jesus? Everyone who was grieving. They were told that He would raise Him from the dead, they were told the Gospel, and they were given the message of hope. They didn’t expect it, and instead rejected the words of Jesus. What interested me most, is that when Jesus spoke of resurrection, no one even wanted to understand Him. But when He asked to be taken to Lazarus’ burial place, they listened. Who wouldn’t weep after that?
Jesus saw that their mindset was not in the right place. They were ignoring words of life and goodness, and for what? For a perverted hope of this world: that everything would continue in the circle of life. Look at John 11:36-37 (ESV) where it says, “ 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?'” Both groups couldn’t comprehend the true purpose of what Jesus was ready to do.
Do we do the same? Do we take Christ’s authority seriously, and do we believe what He says? When we read the Bible, do we get something out of it, or do we read the Bible in order to prove our own point? Are we conforming ourselves to the world’s standard of good and love, or are we conforming ourselves to the image of Christ? Are we going to be swayed the gospel of the world which is death, fear, and destruction… or are we going to believe in the message of Christ, that He came to bring us life, and with abundance in that life as well?
It is easy to be persuaded by the world. They can sometimes make very convincing arguments against the faith we have in our Lord. One thing is for certain, they can’t take away our hope of resurrection. I wholeheartedly believe in the words of Jesus, and I believe His resurrection guarantees it. I believe that all who believe in Him shall be made alive, and I am more than grateful to be one of them. I don’t want Jesus to weep over the fact that I couldn’t submit to His authority. I want to be satisfied in Him, and by doing so, I glorify Him. As it says in John 16:24 (ESV), “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
Soli Deo Gloria.