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This verse of the Bible is one of the most popular being the shortest and the easiest bible verse to commit to memory.
Considering the many questions this scripture raises, it is short and straightforward. It can also serve as a guide for many people who are experiencing uncertainty, disappointment in their faith or a general sense of loneliness.
John 11:35. “Jesus wept”.
Jesus Christ’s humanity is a key piece of understanding his teachings. Understanding Jesus as a man and the human emotions that he experienced is essential to understanding why he wept. There are many rational reasons why Jesus would weep given the truth that he is God in human flesh.
Jesus knew he would be victorious, He would overcome death and save the world, so then why would he shed tears?
Jesus knew he would be victorious, he knew that He would overcome death and save mankind from sin. Jesus knew what was going to happen, so why did Jesus shed tears at Lazarus’ place for his death?
According to the account of John in the Bible, Jesus wept at the place of Lazarus death, when he got there and was told he had been dead for two days, even though he knew that Lazarus was already dead before coming there and that it was to the glory of God.
Jesus weeping at that point is an inconceivable issue to imagine but he did, and there must be a reason why he wept. We are going to examine the reasons why Jesus wept and what they really mean to you and me.
Reasons Why Jesus Wept at Lazarus’ death
It is imaginable for you and me to weep over so many things, especially those beyond our power, but to imagine that Jesus wept is something inconceivable. Let us take a look at three reasons why Jesus wept at the place of Lazarus’ death.
John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Holy Book by its English translation “Jesus Wept”; is one that in its simplicity carries a lot of complex interpretations that’s often not discovered in a glance.
Now one can easily point out that Lazarus was a man loved by Jesus, and He was well acquainted with his sisters Martha and Mary (The one who anointed His feet with ointment and wiped with her hair). Then Jesus seeing that his friend was dead for four days, and everyone mourning upon getting there wept as well.
However, we recall in John 11:23 Jesus saying to Martha “Your brother shall rise again”. And going to previous verses 4 &11, we see Jesus being confident that Lazarus will live again. If this was true, then why would we still think Jesus wept because he was mourning with the others? If Jesus knew he was going to resurrect Lazarus on getting to where he laid, then why weep for his death?
Verses 6-8 helps us understand that Jesus waited for instructions from the Holy Spirit, before heading back to Judea, where Lazarus was. Of course, this instruction he had about Lazarus’ death wasn’t from the messenger as verses 12-16 point how Jesus informs his disciples about what has happened after the messenger who said Lazarus was sick has come and gone.
Verse 15 shows once more that the current state of Lazarus would not be his final but only to glorify the name of God, and for the disciples of Jesus to believe. If Jesus knew these things, then why would he weep? Obviously, the death of his friend Lazarus isn’t the answer.
Jesus wept not because of grief that his friend has died, but because of the terrible spectre of death itself; death brought on the human race by sin. This is more than natural human sympathy.
Since the fall of Adam and Eve, man has been condemned to death because of sin; the devil, the evil of this world. He saw the implications of sin (death) there, and this made Him weep. This was the reality of man and him being in human form at that time, knew he had to die to save our soul from this death as well.
The sorrow that Jesus felt is not to be interpreted sentimentally, for He wept because of something much greater; the evil that tormented the human race.
#1. Jesus wept for the pain of His friends
When Jesus was informed of the sickness of Lazarus, He tarried for two days before going, even though He knew all that was going to happen.
For He said in John 11:14 “when Jesus heard that, He said, this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the son of God might be glorified thereby”
He already knew that all that happen to Lazarus was to glorify God.
Getting to the place of Lazarus death, He met Mary, Martha and others weeping and yet joined them in weeping, even though He knew what to do. This signifies that truly Christ Jesus came in human flesh.
He was in the world with us, like us and lived with us bodily. His human nature gave in at that moment and He wept. He couldn’t hold back the tears when He saw His friends crying.
In Romans 12:15, the Bible says “Rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with them that do weep”. Jesus actually wept because of the pains he saw His friends passing through, He experienced and understood and felt the same feelings with the people around Him.
He was filled with pain and empathy when He saw the tears of Mary, Martha and others. This shows the emotional part of Jesus Christ.
It is natural for one to be moved to tears when he sees his family or close relatives and friends I tears and pain, and that is because of our emotional nature to feel the pain of others.
One would have expected that Jesus being a supreme being would not be moved by their tears and pains. let us not forget that Jesus came in the likeness of men and in all its ramification, therefore He could be moved by the flesh to weep for the death of Lazarus who was a friend of His.
Jesus did not weep over the death of Lazarus as many believers have come to believe today, because Jesus already knew that Lazarus would be raised back to life and spend eternity in heaven, but rather the Saviour wept because of the pains others were going through because of Lazarus death.
#2. Jesus wept for their lack of Faith
One other reason why Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus was due to the lack of faith he found around Him.
They have practically lost hope and faith even in the presence of the saviour who had all the answers to all they wanted.
When Jesus eventually told His disciples they were going to Judea to save Lazarus, rather than trust in Him, they reminded Him of the last time they were almost stoned at Judea, and He told them that “those who walk in the light need not stumble in darkness”.
When He got to Judea, Mary said to Him, “if you had been here earlier, my brother wouldn’t have died”.
How often do we lose hope sooner than expected in the things we are expecting from God? How often do we believe that all is gone, when in actual fact our faith ought to grow stronger at those moments.
Jesus went further to tell Martha that her brother will live again, rather than have faith in the words of Jesus, she still doubted the power of Christ who was standing in front of her to raise her brother.
Faith is a non-negotiable requirement in the kingdom if we want to get anything from Jesus. For without faith in God, no one can please him.
Faith is what moves God on our behalf and commits Him to do those things we require of Him. The Bible tells us to commit our ways unto the Lord, we should also trust in Him and He would bring our heart desires to pass.
Our faith must be firm and sacrosanct. This faith was not found in Mary, Martha, and those around Him. lack of faith of those people in the efficacy of the power of Jesus to answer their prayer was what grieved Jesus.
Jesus wept because all the answers to their needs were right in front of them, yet they seemed to miss it. i.e. the power of Jesus to raise Lazarus back to life and wipe their tears forever.
What Jesus truly wants is for us to trust and have faith in him no matter how hopeless the situation might seem.
Jesus is very tender towards our relationship with him and he deeply wants us to trust and have confidence in Him and take Him at His word.
When we take Jesus at His word and believe He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, He is full of Joy and comes to our rescue. When a mature believer fails to do that, it grieves the heart of Jesus.
How many Christians are offended by God today because He didn’t handle things the way they wanted Him to, and so lost their faith in Him? He knows it is our faith to remain steadfast in Him that leads to our salvation, joy, and peace.
Everyone whoever impressed Jesus and got something from Him had one thing in common; a bold faith in Him.
Jesus wept because of man’s sins and the death it brought.
It is not specifically explained in John 11:35 why Jesus wept. We can infer from scriptures and by the understanding of the holy spirit that Jesus wept over death as a result of the sins of mankind.
At the beginning of creation, in Genesis 2:16-17, “The Lord God commanded the man saying, of every tree of the garden thou may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it, for in the day that thou eat thereof, thou shall surely die”.
This commandment was to ensure that man lives forever and is never a slave to death. But man disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit.
God was angry with man and punished man with death. In Genesis 3:19, the Bible says, “In the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it was thou taken, for dust thou art and unto dust shall thou return”.
Death was brought upon man as a result of disobedience. When Jesus saw that the death of Lazarus was a result of man’s faults, He wept because it wasn’t the plan of God from the beginning for man to be a slave to death.
Jesus wept at that moment seeing how man thwarted the plan of God for his life by reckless and costly mistakes. Apostle Paul confirms the correlation between sin and death in Romans 5:12 “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”.
Also in Romans 6:23, the word says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. One can say that man was the cause of his own death, because he failed to keep the commandment God gave him, this was why Jesus wept. If there had been no sin, man wouldn’t have become slave to death.
Jesus had to die to correct what man had destroyed. He wept because, if man had not scattered the eternal plan of God, he wouldn’t have come to die on the cross a shameful death for us and there wouldn’t have been death for man.
This is the whole essence of why Jesus Christ wept at the death of Lazarus.