I believe John 11:35 to be a one of the very moving and heart-probing texts of the Bible. Those of us who grew up through Sunday school, memorized it for class because it was the shortest memory verse we could find. So we put those two words, “Jesus wept,” into our brains long before we had any real understanding or appreciation of them or could allow them to get to our hearts. Well, we do that kind of thing as children, but when we become grown-ups, we put away such things, don’t we?
Now these days, I am a cry-er! I am neither proud of that fact, nor ashamed of it. I have been taken by surprise, at times, when tears began leaking from my eyes. It has happened when I have been reading Scripture, as well as when I have been reflecting on some regret of mine because of a past mistake. But if we can get past our embarrassment, tears can communicate to others in a special way, even if that’s not our goal.
When Jesus cried (softly, on this occasion) at the scene of the bereavement of Lazarus’ sisters, He was well aware that He was about to turn that scene upside down...that He was about to bestow beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness in place of mourning and garments of praise instead of a spirit of despair. He was about to raise his friend from death and give him back to life and to his family. And still He wept! Why do you think He did so? In the context of John 11, it was when Jesus saw Mary’s tears and the others weeping and was invited to come and see where Lazarus’ body had been laid...it was then that our Lord wept. I don’t pretend to know all that may have gone through our Lord’s heart. But I believe He wept out of compassion for the bereaved...and maybe out of anger at our enemy, “Death.” Maybe He saw prefigured here, His own coming burial and the desperate need that compelled it. As Ken Gire wrote in his excellent book, Intimate Moments With The Savior, “...who’s to say which is more incredible—a man who raises the dead...or a God Who weeps?” One thing for sure, I am in awe of the tears of God.
This column was submitted by Doug Oakes, minister, Woodlawn Church of Christ Zanesville, Ohio. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed are not necessarily those of The Perry County Tribune.