I believe John 11:35 to be one of the most 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 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.
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 bereavement where the sisters of Lazarus were mourning their brother, 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. I know this...I am in awe of God’s tears.
Written by Doug Oakes, minister, Woodlawn Church of Christ, Zanesville; email, email@example.com.