Monday, October 3, 2011

Jesus Wept (John 11:35)

At whose death did Jesus weep? Lazarus

Jesus wept. The Bible features two stories that show Jesus being publicly moved to tears. He weeps with Mary and Martha in Bethany at the passing of their brother Lazarus (John 11:35), whom Jesus would soon famously raise from the dead (John 11:43-44). The word John used for “wept” (dakruo) means “to weep, shed tears”. The second instance where Jesus cried was more demonstrative. When he makes his final approach in Jerusalem, Jesus wept over the city (Luke 19:41). The word used in Luke (klaio) means “to mourn, weep, lament”. It is as if a tear trickled down Jesus’ cheek in Bethany while he bawled in Jerusalem.

Though these are the only specific instances in which the Bible records that Jesus wept, Hebrews implies that tears were not uncommon in his life:

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. (Hebrews 5:7-8 NASB)
The passage in John is the most well known passage in which Jesus wept, likely because the action constitutes the entire verse: Jesus wept. John 11:35. It is the shortest verse in all of Scripture. The versification emphasizes it. This sentence could have been attached to the verse preceding it or the following verse. But it is not. It stands alone as if to say that there is something profound in the act of Jesus weeping.

What causes you to shed tears? When is the most you have ever cried? Why did Jesus weep at the news of Lazarus’ death when he would raise him moments later?

Perhaps Jesus cried because he saw his friends suffering. Perhaps he wept because his purposes required him to delay going to Bethany (John 11:6). Perhaps he wept for Lazarus, either because of the suffering he had endured or because he would raise him and as such, die again. Whatever the reasons for Jesus’ tears, they indicate that he cared. The fact that Jesus wept means that Jesus cared.

We do not worship an indifferent apathetic God. We worship a God who cares enough to wish to save us. We worship a God who cares enough to send his own son to make that happen (John 3:16). We worship a God who cares enough to weep for us (Luke 19:41; John 11:35).

Do you believe that God cares for you? Really? Why? Why not?

“Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are. More often than not, God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and to summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next.” - Frederick Buechner (b. 1926), Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized, 117

1 comment:

  1. I asked my men’s class why Jesus would cry when he knew Lazarus would be healed. Ernie responded immediately that it might because he knew he had to work. If you knew Ernie, you would find that even funnier.