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Jesus wept

Yvonne wants to know exactly what John meant when he wrote, "Jesus wept," (John 11:35)?

This verse is part of John's account of Jesus raising His friend Lazarus from the dead. This miracle was the final "sign" in John's highly selective catalogue of miracles that he recorded to lead people to faith and life through Jesus (20:30-31). It also marked the turning point in Jesus' ministry as the majority of the Jewish leaders made the decision to put Him to death in response to this miracle (11:46-53).

Here's the immediate context of the miracle as John recorded it for us:

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 

'Where have you laid him,' he asked.

'Come and see, Lord,' they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, 'See how he loved him.'  (11:33-36).

The people there took Jesus' tears to be in regard to Lazarus. That's not wrong, but of course, there's more to the story.

Jesus is also weeping because of the pain being experienced  by Mary and Martha. We're told in v. 33 that "he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled," as a result of the suffering He saw Mary and those with her going through. We all know what it's like to see someone close to us hurting.  We hurt because they hurt and that's what happened here. But there's still a bit more I think.  

When Jesus met with Martha and then later with Mary, the first words from them were identical"if you had been here, my brother would not have died," (v. 21,32). I get the idea this was something they had been discussing (rehearsing), for the last four days. Although it's possible to take these words as simply expressing confidence in Jesus, I understand them to be something more. I think they were hurt by what they perceived as negligence on His part (for not being there), and their words are meant to reflect that. Read them again and see what you think. If this was their meaning, it would natural for Jesus to be troubled by them and it adds another element to His sorrow. 

Finally, I also think there is something more universal and less personal going on.  I think Jesus is weeping because He understood this was what sin didit brought misery, pain, and suffering.  It separated loved ones.  It created chaos and confusion. He knew that Lazarus would come back to life again, but He also knew he would die, as would all. Jesus wept because this was the pain the human race had brought upon itself through sin. All of the hospitals, clinics, and cemeteries owe their existence to sin (Genesis 3:17-19). There would no Darfurs, Rwandas, gulags, or Holocausts, were it not for our rebellion. No child would go to bed hungry, cold, or separated from their parents if there were no such thing as sin. Perhaps His tears touched all of these things. If this is an accurate assessment of what was going on, it parallels His tears outside Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44). 

Jesus was no spectator of the human condition, He was a participant. Praise God that what moved our Lord to tears at these times, moved Him to the cross at the time.
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