“Jesus wept” John 11:35
A very sad and mournful message had come to Jesus. It was such a tender statement that many of God’s people through the centuries have uttered the very same words on a similar occasion. What was happening was that in a suburb of Jerusalem called Bethany one of Jesus’ beloved followers named Lazarus lay dying. Jesus happened to be about a day’s journey away from the home where Lazarus was.
The plaintive message to Jesus concerning Lazarus was simply, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” John 11:3 (NIV). There was no request in this prayer. Nothing was asked for by Lazarus’ sisters. They did not ask Jesus to come to them as they likely knew how dangerous it would have been for Him. Recently there was an attempt on Jesus’ life near their home. All they wanted was for Jesus to know of their sorrowful situation. They knew Jesus and His powers and believed if He knew their situation He would do something.
Many who have suffered can appreciate the dilemma of the sisters. Desperately they wanted something to happen but in their turmoil they were not sure what. Better just to let the Master know there was trouble in their home and let Jesus decide how to sort it out. Have you prayed such a prayer recently? The situation is so complex, so beyond your resources to sort out that all you can do is tell the Lord about it and not ask for something. You have to let God figure out how to correct the issue. It is a low state to be in but God is near.
Jesus did not immediately respond to the statement about Lazarus’ deadly illness by going immediately. He lingered two days before starting out for Bethany. The disciples are fearful of going back to where Jesus was under threat of death nevertheless they did go thinking they would die with Him. By the time they arrived Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days.
When Jesus came upon the scene of the mourners who came to acknowledge the death of Lazarus we are told by John that He “groaned in the spirit and troubled Himself” John 11: 33. The expression John used in the passage means Jesus was indignant or angry. But at what was He angry? Certainly it could not be those who mourned for in a moment He too would weep. I believe the reality of death and Satan who has the power of death (Hebrews 2:14) were the things that caused Jesus’ anger. Jesus came to destroy Satan and free those held in fear of death. Here was an example of what His mission was all about. He would die the death His people deserved for their sins and deliver them from the jaws of the grave.
As Jesus was approaching the tomb He began to weep. It is not the same term for weeping that John used to describe the mourners. They wailed loudly and wept. Jesus’ weeping was quiet but just as heartfelt. Because we know that Jesus is the same always and never changes we can be assured that when He comes to one or another of His sheep who weep, He weeps with them.
What an encouragement for a child of God to know that even when they weep in private, Jesus is beside them and is so moved by their sorrows He sheds tears as well. There are tears in heaven. I am convinced that our beloved Jesus is fully involved with the emotions of our situations and allows us to read that He wept in order for us to draw near to Him in this confidence.
No one understands like Jesus;
Every woe He sees and feels;
Tenderly He whispers comfort,
And the broken heart He heals.
– John W. Peterson
Peterson has put it so well and when our situation overwhelms us we need to seek comfort and peace in the arms of Jesus. He is indeed the incomparable friend.
Do you know this friend Who stays closer than a brother? Have you sought the Lord to be your healer from the disease of sin? Have you seen how precious He is to those who believe on Him? Jesus calls you with all your heartache and sorrow to come to Him and be blessed, forgiven, strengthened, comforted. He will bless you with His tears. Come, and come now.