When asked to recite or memorize a Bible verse in Sunday School, many of us immediately chose this shortest verse in the Bible. But, there is more to this two-word verse — “Jesus wept.” — than just being short and easy to remember.
When Jesus learned of His dear friend Lazarus’s death, the Lord waited two days before going to visit Lazarus’s family. When He arrived, Lazarus’s sisters were grieving and disappointed. They challenged Jesus, insisting that He could have healed Lazarus if He’d come sooner. When the Lord saw the sisters and those who had gathered to support them, “Jesus wept.”
There are countless interpretations of why Jesus wept, but these are the three reasons I believe Lazarus' death and his sisters' grief inspired the Lord's tears:
- Jesus wept because the people He loved were weeping.
Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters. The Lord knew Martha and Mary were heartbroken. He felt their loss and their pain. Despite knowing that He would soon raise Lazarus from death, Jesus wanted to comfort these sisters in their time of sorrow.
- Jesus wept because the people did not understand who He was.
Despite the miracles Jesus had already performed, the prophecies about Him in the Old Testament, and the Lord's efforts to explain His true identity, no one understood who He was. No one grasped the full scope of his capabilities and voluntary submission to die for the sins of His people. Jesus wanted them to know how much He loved them. He was disappointed, and their lack of faith saddened Him.
- Jesus wept because He knew what was about to happen. He may have felt like we do when we know something extraordinary is about to happen to someone we love, but we can’t tell them. Maybe this is one of the reasons He wept. He was happy because the people He loved would soon know that death is not the end of someone's life, but the beginning of something new. He wept because grief can be a long night, but joy does come in the morning.
Jesus wept. He wept then as we do now. We grieve when we are sad, confused, and losing hope. We can also cry through pain anticipating a greater joy.
Jesus wept. Let's find comfort in our Lord who has tasted death, both personally and through the eyes of people he loved. He knows our mortality. He knows our vulnerability to death because he has been one of us.
At the end of grief, He lives!
Jesus said..., “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).