Why did Jesus Weep?

January 27, 2023

John 11:35

Jesus wept

Why did Jesus Weep?

               Well before we can answer that question we need some background about what has taken place.  We need to read John 11 to get the context of what has taken place.  Briefly we will summarize, but there is so much here I fear we do an injustice in doing so.  Many of you are familiar with the story that Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany, had fallen sick.  They were all close friends with Jesus.  Mary and Martha had sent a messenger to Jesus saying, “Lord, him you love (so well) is sick.”  When he says sick, they is not talking a head cold, they are talking as in sick unto death.  Jesus then says, “This sickness is not to end in death; but [on the contrary] it is to honor God and to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through (by) it.”  So even though is it says Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus dearly, he staid where He was for two more days before traveling to Bethany.  Now Jesus finally tells His disciples plainly that Lazarus is dead, but then He says this, “And for your sake I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me). However, let us go to him.”  When He gets there, He finds a mournful scene as Lazarus has died and He meets up with Martha who has heard He is coming. 

               Now you can imagine the feelings that Mary, Martha and the rest are going through.  They know who Jesus is as the Messiah, they know He has the power to heal and yet even when they called upon the one who says He loves them, He didn’t show up.  In their hearts and minds they are hurt, disappointed, maybe even angry.  Jesus, you didn’t answer my prayer.  Perhaps there have been times when we have been in that place of Mary and Martha.  We know and love the Lord, but at some crisis or need we prayed, but He didn’t come through for us as we thought He could have and should have.  We have thought, “Lord, if you had only showed up, I know the need would have been met.” 

               Martha converses with Jesus saying, “Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You.

23Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again.

24Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25Jesus said to her, I am [Myself] the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me, although he may die, yet he shall live; 26And whoever continues to live and believes in (has faith in, cleaves to, and relies on) Me shall never [actually] die at all. Do you believe this?

27She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed [I do believe] that You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), the Son of God, [even He] Who was to come into the world. [It is for Your coming that the world has waited.]”  Martha has a revelation of who Christ is.  She knows Him as the Savior and she knows Him as the Healer, but she doesn’t really yet know Him as the Resurrection and the Life.  Sometimes for a new revelation to come forth, the former one has to pass away.  We have to let go of old paradigms and understandings in order to grasp a greater revelation of the unveiling of Christ.  Jesus is speaking to her of this, but she does not fully comprehend it yet.

               Martha goes to let Mary know Jesus is here and she comes running to him, followed by the group that have been mourning with them.  It says in verses 32-38, “When Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she dropped down at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.

33When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who came with her [also] sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.]  34And He said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, Lord, come and see.

35Jesus wept.

36The Jews said, See how [tenderly] He loved him! 37But some of them said, Could not He Who opened a blind man’s eyes have prevented this man from dying?

38Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close] it.”  I believe Jesus really felt and had empathy with their sorrow and pain, but I think that it also grieved Him that they could not see beyond their disappointment and they still doubted Him.  It reminds me of the times Jesus would say, “Oh faithless generation, how long must I endure you?”  Jesus wept because of their sorrow, but He also wept because of their doubt and unbelief. 

               If we really believe Romans 8:28, that,  “all things work for the good of them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose,” then we have to be able to rest and trust Jesus even when we don’t understand why things happen as they do.  Sometimes it is those crisis moments that create significant life changing events.  They challenge our faith and belief system.  They stretch us beyond our ability to explain and rationalize what has happened.  Then we are faced with, “do I get angry and turn from Him, or do I trust Him.”  Trust isn’t based in understanding; on the contrary, it is often trusting in what you don’t understand. 

               Jesus then had them roll back the stone where Lazarus was buried for four days.  He looked to heaven and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42Yes, I know You always hear and listen to Me, but I have said this on account of and for the benefit of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You did send Me [that You have made Me Your Messenger].”  And then He shouted, “Lazarus, Come forth.” 

“44And out walked the man who had been dead, his hands and feet wrapped in burial cloths (linen strips), and with a [burial] napkin bound around his face. Jesus said to them, Free him of the burial wrappings and let him go.

45Upon seeing what Jesus had done, many of the Jews who had come with Mary believed in Him.”

               The Lord is taking us from glory to glory.  He is resurrecting us into a new mind and way of thinking.  He is loosing us from our formal burial cloth of religious thinking and ideology.  He is raising us up into newness of life. 

On this journey we sometime must relinquish the old so that we can embrace the new.  The worse thing we can do is to believe things are as they have always been.  This is what religion does.  It builds its city on a truth, but becomes so cemented in it that it can never move on in the continual unfolding of the revelation of Jesus Christ. 

               Some of you need a spiritual healing where there has been disappointment, hurt and maybe even anger against God.  God still loves you more than you can know.  Even when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart.  Sometimes it is these seeming failures that really lead us into the greater glory, even as it was with Mary and Martha.  Hold fast your faith.  He will never leave you or forsake you.



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