There are a lot of controversy as to why Jesus wept in the story of Lazarus.
Some are of the opinion that it was because of how much he loved Lazarus and his family, while some think that it was a response to the grief he saw on people’s faces.
We will back to this, but I will want to give an analogy.
As a kid in church, I always participated in bible recitation games and all of those bible games we did while we were young, I know you understand what I am talking about.
There was this time in my bible study class that a teacher had asked us what the shortest verse of the bible was? truth be told, I had no idea, likewise the rest of my bible study mates.
After much deliberations amongst ourselves, we all came to the conclusion that asking our teacher was the best option we had.
Our teacher willingly gave out the answer.
John 11:35; Jesus wept.
A lot of thought had gone through my innocent mind then, I had wondered why the big and all powerful Jesus cried.
Till a few years ago, anytime I read through this scriptures, I still wondered why Jesus cried. I am guessing you do too.
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My ideologies on why Jesus wept
Was it because he loved him? I find it so hard to believe this, because Jesus could obviously raise the dead
was it the grief he saw on people’s faces? Jesus had one mission for coming to Bethany, and it was to raise Lazarus from the dead; what this means is that it was not the grieving heart of people that moved him to tears.
What then did?
let’s have a look at some of the verses.
Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
John 11:1-3 KJV
Here, we can see the narrative of how Lazarus started out sick, and how the sickness resulted to his death. We can also see the efforts by his Sisters to reach out to Jesus.
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. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
John 11:4-6 KJV
From this verse, we can see that Jesus knew the reasons why Lazarus would die, we can also see that he tarried for two more days after receiving the information.
Truth be told, I sincerely do not think Jesus was grieved because of Lazarus death, he knew beforehand that Lazarus was sick and would die, he even told his disciples about it.
So if we say Jesus wept because of the grief, that seems pretentious to me because he intentionally stayed for two more days before taking the trip to lazarus’s House and he knew that he was going to raise the man from the dead, obviously, once the grieved received their dead back to life, sadness ends.
I feel there Is more to why Jesus wept that goes far beyond emotions.
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let’s take a look at subsequent verses:
Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judæa again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 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. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
John 11:7-11 KJV
Did you see that! We have an hint here, as to why Jesus waited until Lazarus died before visiting Judea; he had three people in mind;
- The Jews
- His disciples
- Mary and Martha
So let’s proceed;
Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
John 11:12-15 KJV
Look at what Jesus said “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that ye may believe”.
What does this depicts?
It means that the reason Christ had tarried two more days was because there is something about Lazarus death that will do something to the belief system of the people that will be present upon his visit to the already dead man’s house and this includes his disciples, Mary, Martha, and the Jews
But did this happened?
Let’s go further.
Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
John 11:17-21 KJV
The preceding verse pictures Martha, the sister of Lazarus displaying a heightened level of unbelief by telling Jesus that if he had been around, her brother wouldn’t have died.
Now, I have a question? Was it that Martha had not heard or witness the diverse miracles of how Christ raised the dead and healed the sick? Because for her to have had such confidence that he could cure her brother’s sickness if he was alive is enough grounds to certify that she had seen and witnessed the diverse miracles Jesus did.
But my question is this, why did she think that his presence there wouldn’t avert the situation? Why?
We are going somewhere, Let’s proceed
But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
John 11:22-26 KJV
At a first glance, you will think Martha believed in what Jesus could do, but her response to Jesus’ statement showed that she didn’t believe at all. “I know that he shall rise again in the ressurection at the last day”
Jesus was focused on the “Now“. Martha didn’t see a possibility in the situation.
Finally, I have gotten to where I am headed.
Jesus in trying to bring Martha into his “Now” reality responded to her unbelief by saying “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Jesus was here, Martha was somewhere else, to further illustrate Martha’s height of unbelief, let us have a look at the response she gave the Lord
She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
John 11:27 KJV
This was a wrong answer to the question Jesus asked.
It’s simple, your loving dad asked if you know he will pay your school fees? You then replied by saying “Daddy, I love the apples you bought for me yesterday”.
This response alone can grief your father because he feels you aren’t paying attention to the details he is showing you.
Now, lets check out the straw that finally broke the camel’s back
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. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. 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. 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.
John 11:28-32 KJV
The same Mary that sat at the feet of Jesus also didn’t believe in what Jesus’s presence could do.
It’s simple, he had just one reason for not showing up the very minute he got the information that Lazarus was seriously ill.
He had to linger for the one that he loved so much to die, just so their unbelief could be chattered.
But, the reverse was the case.
Jesus was grieved at that moment? Why? Martha didn’t believe, Mary as well didn’t, how much more the Jews.
But it was more than that, Jesus had said ” I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”
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This was more than a statement, it was a reality he had called Martha into, but she couldnt see the possibilities in what the master can do, simply, because she was mourning.
A lot of us are in this shoes, we allow our situation to take charge of us, to the point where our spiritual eyesight becomes so clouded and we cant hear the Spirit beckoning.
The truth is “This statement were valid and true, if Martha was able to see the reality Jesus showed her, She would have tasted the ressurection and the life, as well as the Jews that were present.
But, the one person that should spread the gospel didn’t believe, Jesus was grieved, and he wept because unbelief had mapped them out from the blessings they should have received.
Some of you might still have doubt in your heart about why Jesus wept, so I would want to relate this story with the Samaritan woman by the well in a Samaritan city called Sychar, I will want to put the samaritan in Marthas shoes.
This woman has had five husbands, which typically means five failed relationships.
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I bet that this woman was frustrated already and at the crossroads, she was even one of those that should have turned back at the message of Christ, but she pushed away her emotions to focus on what Christ was saying.
You know the rest of story, That woman won over a thousand souls within a few hours.
If you have a different perspective as to why Jesus wept in John 11:35, please use the comments.
God bless you.
Thanks for reading.