Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus telling Him that their brother, Lazarus, was ill:
“When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
Jesus had a special bond with this family. He stopped at the home of Martha in Bethany when traveling to Jerusalem. Mary had poured oil on the Lord and wiped His feet wither hair. She had chosen the better part of sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him when her sister complained (Luke 10:38-41 John 12:1-3).
Jesus didn’t come for two days. Finally, He “… said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea…he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe…
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:14-44
Why did Jesus weep? He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead from the beginning of this incident – “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” He purposely waited until after Lazarus had died to go to Bethany. He told His disciples He was going to wake Lazarus from sleep (death). He told Martha that He was the Resurrection and the Life implying He had power over life and death and he could cause life at any time. He told those at the grave site that if they believed they would see the glory of God. Then He prayed to God the Father, saying that He knew God answered His prayer, but only prayed for the benefit of those standing there.
Why did Jesus weep if He knew that at that very time, He would raise Lazarus from the dead? The Bible doesn’t say so no one can be sure.
I believe He wept because He could feel the pain in Mary, Martha and the others who loved Lazarus. He knew the pain of anyone suffering from the death of a loved one. The Bible says that He was
“…A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” Isaiah 53:3 (NKJV)
His step father Joseph had died sometime after He was twelve and before He was thirty, probably about the middle of that time. Joseph had been a kind, wise father. Jesus had learned to be a carpenter from Joseph, and they had probably spent hours together and because Jesus was sinless these must have been rich fulfilling times.
When Joseph died, Jesus felt pain, just as we do when a loved one dies even though we know we will see them again in heaven. He also knew the pain of His mother Mary, His brothers, sisters, relatives, friends and neighbors.
Jesus knew the pain and sorrow of those who were suffering (Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34 Mark 6:34, 8:2). He could understand from a divine perspective – He could feel more deeply the pain of others than we can.
Jesus wept because Jerusalem did not accept the fact that He was her Messiah and could save her from all the suffering that would come upon her:
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37 Luke 13:34
He experienced His own great sorrow when He faced the cross. His anguish was so great He sweat drops of blood:
“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44
“Hematidrosis is a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress.” Wikipedia
Now, with the Holy Spirit, Jesus knows exactly what we are going through and even intercedes for us, especially when we do not know how to pray:
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27
The Song Just a Closer Walk With Thee:
(1 “I am weak but Thou art strong Jesus keep me from all wrong I’ll be satisfied as long As I walk, let me walk close to Thee
(2 Through this world of toil and snares, If I falter, Lord, who cares? Who with me my burden shares? None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.
(3When my feeble life is o’er Time for me will be no more Guide me gently, safely o’er To Thy kingdom’s shore, to Thy shore
Refrain: Just a closer walk with Thee Grant it, Jesus, is my plea Daily walking close to Thee Let it be, dear Lord, let it be
I love this song, but the second verse seemed impersonal, almost cold, to say no one cared when we grieved or were overcome by sin. Finally, I realized this verse is just rejoicing in the fact that Jesus understands completely. No matter how much someone emphasized with us, that person can never understand us fully. But Jesus can.
“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” Proverbs 14:10
Only Jesus can understand. Sometimes, the most comforting knowledge we can have is that Someone understands. Whether the deepest grief or the highest joy He can understand completely. What a comfort!
We can pray to Jesus any time with any request. He knows better than we do all the thoughts, actions and feelings leading up to what we ask for in prayer. He loves us completely and will give us whatever we ask for if it is His will, and His will is always based on His perfect love and wisdom.
When we consider this shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” John 11:35, we can remember all it implies – Jesus love for us, His knowledge and understandin of all we are going through and His ability to do more than we can even imagine or ask:
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21