By Stephen Leonard

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus wept and, consequently, tears rolled down his face and fell to the ground. Why? Why was Jesus moved to the point of tears over this great sorrow? Was he weeping for Lazarus, who had died four days before? Remember, Jesus had a special friendship with Lazarus and his two sisters. Did he weep for Mary and Martha, who had suffered the loss of their dearly loved brother and were in deep mourning for him? Did He weep for the many friends of Lazarus who grieved over the loss of their dear friend? Why did Jesus cry?

This happened in the days just prior to his crucifixion, and also his resurrection three days after, which we soon celebrate. The resurrection of Lazarus was truly and providentially timely as it immediately preceded the death and rising to the life of Jesus Himself. In connection with this miracle, the raising of Lazarus, Jesus was able to powerfully testify to the world that, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”(John 11:25). This miracle produced the actual life illustration of the truth that Jesus is truly “the resurrection and the life.”

Jesus knew that Lazarus would live again before he even arrived in Bethany. If he knew this, why was He grieving for Mary and Martha, who would, consequently, receive their dearly loved brother back from the grave, and the immediate drying of their tears? Knowing this, why then did Jesus weep?

He wept because he was moved to tears by the awful and real grief of His friends. Death creates the cruelest separation of family and friends. Jesus knew that. It is a cause for mourning. Jesus loves His friends so much that He joins them in their grief. He loves you so much that He weeps in your grief. Jesus enters into your grieving and mourns with His friends, because you are His friends.

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible. It sets apart in one powerful sentence the grief of our Savior. It is captured in two words! “Jesus wept!” He fully feels your grief. Jesus wept as you weep, and real tears flow from His eyes.

Tears are produced by emotionally draining grief. The one who loves deeply cannot hold back tears. They come automatically. You cannot stop them when your love moves you to sob. Your body’s reaction to enormous grief is the irretrievable flowing of tears.

Jesus is moved to tears in grief over death. Death is the greatest consequence of sin. And everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God. But Jesus is the resurrection and the life! The forgiver of sin, and the only antidote of what it causes. No one will experience resurrection and new life except through Him. Yet His weeping proves His love for you! And also the precious fact that He will indeed raise you to new life.


“Who is this, a Man of Sorrows, walking sadly life’s hard way, homeless, weary, sighing, weeping over sin and Satan’s sway? ‘Tis our God, our glorious Savior, who above the starry sky is for us a place preparing, where no tear can dim the eye.”

(2nd verse of William Walsham How’s hymn, “Who Is This, So Weak and Helpless,” 1823-1897)

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