Why Did Jesus Weep?
John 11:35 is often referred to as the shortest verse in the Bible. Words can be added to make it longer without changing its meaning and some versions do. Yet, after we get past opinions and arguments over the actual length of this Scripture, let's stop a moment and think about why Jesus shed tears at this time. Was He sad about the death of His friend? Was He worried about Mary and Martha since their brother had died? Was this an expression of His regret for not coming sooner to save Lazarus? Have we too forgotten who He is?
When we read the entire story in God's Word (John 11:1-44), we realize Jesus had other things on His mind. Here He found another opportunity to glorify God and dispel unbelief and He used it:
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days (John 11:1-6).
This Physician is not bound by time and space. STARflight is not necessary when Jesus is on His way. In this case, He took His time. He was going to perform a reversal. Jesus was about to demonstrate to them how life and death really work using His Father's power:
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:11-15)
Boggles our minds but that's because of who we are. Jesus, the Son of God, is life and He is our Lord and Savior. Sometimes we forget what this means. In this instance, He even had to remind Martha:
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:23-26)
Jesus knew God's will and He knew His mission on earth. He left Heaven to come and be the ultimate sacrifice to atone for the sin of an unbelieving world. He, who was without sin, was about to take the punishment for everybody else. As He looked at all these grieving and unbelieving people, it had to break His heart to see such lacking faith in who He was after all He had already done:
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled (John 11:33).
And so He wept. Sometimes living on this planet even made Jesus cry!
From the birth of Christ through His return to the Father, God has been revealing His plan to save and reconcile mankind. We are His Creation and He went to great lengths to get us back in right standing with Him because He loves us. And He's not finished. We may never understand God's ways but as we believe in Him, we will often see things we can't quite wrap our finite minds around. But believing is what He asks us to do.
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)