The Tears of Christ








Scriptural Reference:
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick." 4 When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."
John 11:1-4

20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world."
John 11:20-27

28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, "The Teacher has come and is calling for you."
John 11:28

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." 33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see."
John 11:32-34

35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, "See how He loved him!" 37 And some of them said, "Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?"
John 11:35-37

38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days." 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?"
John 11:38-40

The shortest verse in the Bible is recorded as John 11:35, "Jesus wept". These two words have said a lot to many who believe. They have also become words of derision by many who do not understand their significance. In many countries such as the UK, Ireland and Australia, the phrase ‘Jesus wept’ is used as a common expletive, curse or minced oath spoken when something goes wrong or to express mild incredulity. The term has also been used by many writers as an expletive in their works.

What I would like to reflect on are two questions. The first I will hopefully be able to shed some light on. While the second I would hope to leave hanging for you to contemplate and search out the answer to. So the first question first. Why did Jesus weep? There have been a range of interpretations and answers given for this. In Matthew Henry's Commentary it is suggests that there are different constructions have been put on Christ's weeping. The candid interpretation of this act of Christ is that it was a showing of a deep affection for the departed. Especially as it was not someone directly related to him(Jesus).

In Wesley's Notes it tells us that Jesus wept out of sympathy for those who were lamenting the loss of Lazarus their dear friend. Wesley's Commentary continues by expressing the concept that within this grief is a sense of the misery that sin had brought upon human nature. In Gill's Exposition of the entire Bible it states that Jesus had wept as he was walking to the grave. This was a part of his private meditation upon his dear friend Lazarus. As well as the distress his (Lazarus') two Sisters were experiencing. Added to this Gill's exposition continues to express a sense of the greater damnation the people present would experience when they reject the miracle that would be performed to glorify God. This expression or explanation is also described as the sense that Jesus felt a deep sorrow for all of mankind (the generative tense is used here). Oddly it is Wikipedia (a sometimes lamented research source) that explains that the death and resurrection of Lazarus may portent the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

But for me it will take a closer look at the verse within context to those that precede it. WE are informed that Lazarus was sick. At this point there is no emphasis that this is an illness that may lead to death. In verse 4 Jesus tells those that are with him that "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it". Jesus is than described as lingering or staying where he was for two more days. We read in verse 11 Jesus informing the others "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up". Sadly the Disciples didn't catch on to what they were being told. The were thinking in terms of natural sleep. It is in verse 14 that it is made plain to them "Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead…".

So the question still needs an answer. Why did Jesus weep when he knew that he as going to wake and raise Lazarus from the grave? The Disciples had been close to him and had seen many of the miracles first hand. He had given sight to the blind, cleaned the leper, and had woken several from the sleep of death. One such event is recorded in Luke 7:11–17. The Disciples were with him constantly and yet were lacking in pure faith. This lack of faith was told when they were unable to Matthew 17:14-21 that these Disciples had lacked the needed faith to cure the possessed child. Jesus compares this lack of faith with the Centurion's faith as written in Matthew 8:8-10. When he sates "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!". Faith seems to be in short supply. When the fire is hot the people need no encouragement. Yet if things are not as they expect, people tend to start doubting and questions. Moving quietly from faith to disquiet.

Back to the verses. Jesus explains to Martha what is about to happen. He stated openly and clearly that Lazarus would rise again. Yet Martha was lacking faith. She referred to the resurrection of believers. This is despite the fact that she had already said that she believed that whatever Jesus asked God would provide. The ability to believe that Lazarus would be raised up at that time was not within Martha. The Disciples, Martha and even Mary lived in constant grief and sorrow. They were essentially confused and misguided as to who Jesus really was and what to expect or look forward to. So to say that Jesus wept out of compassion for their grief and anguish despite the fact he knew he was going to raise Lazarus can seem somehow limited in scope and understanding.

It would be perhaps more correct to understand that he wept out of pure frustration for their continuing doubt about Him, His ability to heal, and their lack of faith and vision. He wept because time and time again he showed them the truth and they continued to forget and blindly think the worse. Placing limits on their understanding and acceptance of Jesus as the Christ and as the Salvation of all humanity.

The second question that I have deliberately left unanswered is found in John 11:28. Where we are informed of what Martha does after encountering Jesus. "And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, "The Teacher has come and is calling for you". Perhaps within this one question are really two parts. The first is to ask why Martha secretly called Mary. What was there to be secretive about? Jesus was well known to the Sisters. He was known to count them and Lazarus as dear to him. So why was there a need for secrecy? The second part is to ask when did Jesus ask for Mary by name? We do not read this instruction in the preceding verses. Perhaps an accepted sense that Jesus had said something that was not recorded? Perhaps, but really two parts of a question that needs you can research and discover the answer for yourself.


I beg of you.

Help me overcome,
My hardened heart,
My unbelief,
My forgetful nature.

So that I may stand firm,
When frustrations come,
When doubters taunt me,
When times seem dark.

I pray these things,
In your precious name.