Why Did Jesus Weep?


Wisdom is learned by experience. Tim Laws sent this to me and I thought I’d share it with you. It is wisdom that came from small children.

No matter how hard you try you can’t baptize cats.
When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair.
Never ask a three year old to hold a tomato.
You can’t trust your dog to watch your food.
Don’t sneeze when someone’s cutting your hair.
You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
Don’t wear polka dot underwear under white shorts.

We learn wisdom in the Bible by experiencing it over and over again. Let’s read the following passage responsively:

John 11:31-35 (KJV) The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. 32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept.

Jesus has come to the home of His good friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Lazarus has died and has been buried.

And Jesus wept.

This is the shortest verse in the Bible. “Jesus wept”. Now I want to ask you all …

WHY did Jesus weep?

  • Did Jesus weep because He was surprised by Lazarus’ death? No, I don’t think so. Three days before Lazarus died a delegation came from Bethany to Jerusalem and told our Lord:

John 11:3-6 (KJV) Therefore {Lazarus’} sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest 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 might be glorified thereby. 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

Jesus knew that Lazarus was sick unto death, but He also knew that Lazarus’ death was for a specific purpose:

for the GLORY of GOD, that the Son of God might be GLORIFIED

The Heavenly Father wanted to show the world something about Jesus. A few weeks ago we saw in John 9 a man born blind from birth. God used this man to show a great truth, that

Jesus is the Light of the world.
That whosoever follows Him walks in Light, not darkness!

What is God the Father going to show us in Christ today? That Jesus is not only LIGHT but He is EVERLASTING LIFE. Jesus waited TWO DAYS after He was told that Lazarus was dying. Then He told His disciples:

John 11:7-10 (KJV) … Let us go into Judaea again. 8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews (take heed of this phrase) of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

The disciples were worried because – if you’ll remember – when Jesus healed the man born blind from birth, the Jews (a phrase John uses for the Pharisees and Scribes – REMEMBER THIS) wanted to kill Him. THE JEWS hated Jesus! But Jesus told them that He had to go – and that the JEWS couldn’t help what they were doing. They had none of the Light of God in them. Jesus wasn’t worried about THE JEWS. He had a purpose in going to Jerusalem. He said:

John 11:11-15 (KJV) … Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sake that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

Jesus knew that Lazarus was dead. Jesus called the death of Lazarus “a sleep” because He also knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus’ death is but temporary – for Jesus will conquer his death!

So WHY did Jesus weep?

  • Did Jesus weep because He was too far away to get to Lazarus before He died? Absolutely not!

John 11:17-19 (KJV) Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. 18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

The Bible tells us that the distance between Bethany and Jerusalem where Jesus was is about fifteen furlongs, or two miles. The average person can walk two miles at a slow pace in about 25-30 minutes. Jesus was about a half hour away from Lazarus when he got sick. He could have easily gotten there before Lazarus died – and Lazarus has been in the grave four days now as Jesus arrives. Please notice that when Jesus comes THE JEWS – again, the Scribes and Pharisees who hate Him and sought to kill Him are already there, and have been there for four days.

  • Did Jesus weep because of Martha and Mary’s pain? I’ve seen this often in the commentaries. Charles Stanley wrote:

Jesus did not weep over the death itself since He knew that Lazarus would soon be raised and ultimately spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Yet He could not help but weep when confronted with the wailing and sobbing of Mary, Martha, and the other mourners.”

Though the Bible tells us to:

Romans 12:15 (KJV) Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

With all due respect to Bro. Charles – I don’t think that this is the case. The first person to meet Jesus when He arrived at Lazarus’ home was Martha.

John 11:21-24 (KJV) Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

Martha is sad, but Jesus isn’t weeping. In fact, she’s almost accusing Jesus in her sadness.

If Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died

Jesus tells her “Thy brother shall rise again”. Jesus is going to bring Lazarus back to life. But Martha says “Oh, I know he’ll rise at the resurrection”. Not now, but then. Jesus tells her:

John 11:25-26 (KJV) …. I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Jesus is the Resurrection. He is the Source of life. He is going to give life to Lazarus in just a few moments. Jesus asks her:

Do YOU believe this?

Martha replies:

John 11:27 (KJV) …. Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

Martha dodges the question. Jesus asked her if she thought He had control over life, that He is THE RESURRECTION, that Jesus can defeat death. But instead of saying “Yes, You ARE the RESURRECTION. You can raise Lazarus from the grave. There is nothing You cannot do. She instead says, “Well yes, I believe You are the Christ, God’s Anointed One.” She doesn’t express full faith in Christ.

Look at the words of this text:

John 11:28 (KJV)28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

Why is Martha “calling Mary her sister SECRETLY”. Why the sneaking around? We see in a moment:

John 11:31-32 (KJV) The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. 32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Martha whispers to Mary that Jesus is there. Mary gets up, and THE JEWS get up with her. These are the same people that sought to stone Jesus. THE JEWS.

It was THE JEWS …

.. that questioned John the Baptist’s ministry (John 1:19)
.. that asked Jesus for a sign (John 2:18)
.. that were angry that Jesus healed a cripple on the Sabbath (John 5:10)
.. that sought to kill Jesus (John 5:16, 18)
.. that murmured when Jesus said He was the Bread of Life (John 6:41)
.. that ran Jesus out of Jerusalem (John 7:1)
.. that said Jesus had a devil (John 8:48)
that tried to stone Christ (John 8:59)
.. that threw Jesus’ disciples out of Church (John 9:22)

Who are “THE JEWS”? Again, this is the Scribes and Pharisees along with the Sadducees that despised Jesus.

These people have been infiltrating the home of our Lord’s good friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They have gathered around the family as they have mourned the loss of Lazarus. Like wolves around sheep, they cluster about Christ’s own and infiltrate unbelief where once there was belief. Mary goes to Jesus, and right behind her are THE JEWS that despise the Lord. She says …

John 11:32 (KJV) …. Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

She says exactly the same thing that Martha her sister said. This was planted in her head by the Jews. It is almost an accusation. “Jesus, why did YOU wait so long? Why didn’t you come? You were just 30 minutes away, and now my brother is dead. Oh Jesus, YOU let us down!”

Unbelief Causes Jesus To Weep

John 11:33-35 (KJV) When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, …

Jesus looks at Mary, then at the JEWS who have been four days with her. These who hate the Lord have infiltrated a family of faith.

When Jesus sees this “He GROANED”. This is the Greek (ἐμβριμάομαι embrimaomai) which is a very interesting word. The word means “to have indignation, to internally be very angry”. Jesus is stirred not with compassion at the weeping of Mary and THE JEWS, but is internally angered, indignant. But He does so “in the spirit”, in His soul. We are also told that Jesus “was troubled” (ταράσσω tarassō) which means “to be internally agitated, disturbed, rendered anxious or distressed”.

Jesus asks Mary “Where have you laid Lazarus”? But notice Mary doesn’t answer. THEY answer.

34 … They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept.

The Jews have been running the show for four days now. The Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducee have taken over the household.

And Jesus wept!

I can only find THREE places in Scripture
where Jesus was said to weep.

In our text today He wept because of unbelief. Later in His ministry when Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the day we call Palm Sunday we read:

Luke 19:41-44 (KJV) And when {Jesus} was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because they did not understand why He came. Christ came to give us light and life. Christ came to save us from our sins. Christ came to take our punishment upon ourselves. Christ came to save whosoever will. But Jerusalem was not looking for a Savior, but for Someone Who would fulfill their temporary needs.

Jesus wept because of unbelief.
Jesus wept before He raised Lazarus because of unbelief.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of unbelief.
Jesus weeps over the lost who will not hear Him.

Jesus weeps for the sinners. Jesus wept for the Jews who would not understand. Jesus wept because Martha and Mary had been swayed by unbelievers. There is one other place in Scripture that tells us Jesus wept. It is in:

Hebrews 5:7-9 (KJV) {Jesus} in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Before Jesus went to the Cross He wept and prayed unto the Father. He did not weep or pray for His own life. No. Jesus told us:

John 10:17-18 (KJV) Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself….

Jesus laid His life down for you and for me. He alone has the power to give life. Jesus wept in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prepared to die for you and I. He wept for us. He prayed for us. And He weeps when we do not believe in Him. What can cause God to weep? Unbelief. A rejection of Him.

Hebrews 3:12-14 (KJV) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;

Jesus weeps when we allow unbelief to creep in. We come together as His Church to exhort one another to belief in Christ and His Word. We are to do as He says. He alone is the Source of life.

Jesus wept, but He demanded to see Lazarus. Martha – now filled with unbelief – says “But Master, Lazarus stinketh” (John 11:39). Jesus reminds Martha of what He said just moments before:

John 11:40 (KJV) Jesus saith unto {Martha}, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

You cannot see the glory of God unless you believe. The way of the JEWS does not bring blessing. Religion without Christ brings nothing. Has not God said:

Hebrews 11:6 (KJV) … without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Belief does not let unbelief take over the home. Belief keeps its eyes on Jesus. Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Finisher of our FAITH (Hebrews 12:2). Look unto Him! Believe Him! Though Lazarus is dead, he shall yet live because of Christ.

And Lazarus lives!

John 11:41-44 (KJV) … Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

You can believe what you want, but I choose to believe Jesus. He is able! He is able!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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