Why Did Jesus Weep When Lazarus Died?

Why Did Jesus Weep When Lazarus Died?

Bible Verse: John 11:35 (NLT)

“Then Jesus wept.”

Reflection and Challenge

This is known to be the shortest verse in the Bible. It can be found in the story about “The Raising of Lazarus” (John 11:1-44). From the story, one of the many amazing works that we witness is how God allows things to happen for a good reason and for the glory of His name (John 11:4).

Before leaving for Bethany, Jesus knew that Lazarus’ sickness will not end in death but He plainly told His disciples that their dear friend Lazarus is dead. This, of course, is not to contradict His own words but to later have the people know that this had happened for God to receive glory.

The siblings, Lazarus of Bethany, Mary and Martha were loved very dearly by Jesus. However, it took Jesus two days after He was informed that Lazarus was sick before setting out to see him. When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Martha and Mary told Jesus that their brother Lazarus would still be alive had He been there (John 11:21, 32).

At that time, Lazarus had been dead for 4 days already. The siblings were very close to Jesus’ heart and He had told Martha that Lazarus will rise up from the dead and that He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:23, 25).

If Jesus knew beforehand that Lazarus had died and that He can raise him back to life, why then did He weep? One reason anyone can offer could be that Jesus felt compassion over His friends’ weeping, and the mourners’ wailing over the death of Lazarus had caused Him to weep.

This seems to be the readily available reason on the shelf because Jesus’ love and compassion can never be doubted upon. However, reflecting deeply on the Scriptures, we can see that the reason why Jesus wept comes from a rather profound cause: “UNBELIEF.”

*Read more about what Jesus is like in this article: What is the Character of Christ?

Martha and Mary expressed their faith in Jesus but their weeping and the mourners’ wailing shows otherwise. Martha heard Jesus’ assurance by His own words that Lazarus will rise again (John 11:23). Mary must have known Jesus well, and yet they seemed to be not living in what they knew Jesus can do.

Why did Jesus weep? He did so, knowing that even His closest friends did not fully believe in what He can do through the Father.

In times when we face our own trials and sorrows, do we also make Jesus weep? Do we truly and fully believe in Jesus and His deity? The next time you face some fearful things in life, just remember that there is someone greater than any of these that is within us – Jesus. Don’t make Jesus weep again! Praise His holy name!

4 Replies to “Why Did Jesus Weep When Lazarus Died?”

  1. Hello Bro Jess,

    Thank you for your wonderful insight on the story of the raising of Lazarus and the one instance where we see Jesus weeping over the death of somebody very close to His heart.

    When I read this passage for the first time, it never occurred to me to raise the question why it took Jesus two days to go and see Lazarus after He was informed about what happened to Him. I did not think there was anything significant about this “small detail.”

    It was not until a pastor, who I consider as one of my mentors, asked us the members of our Bible Sharing Group on Facebook what’s the reason behind the “delay,” that I started to wonder and say, “Yeah, why is that?” So at first I thought maybe it had something to do with the distance. Jesus must be in a far place from where the siblings were.

    If we read the passage very carefully, it says that “Jesus stayed two more days in the place where He was upon hearing that Lazarus was sick (John 11:6-7). When they arrived at Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for 4 days already. Most if not all scholars agree that Jesus was not far from Bethany, about 20 miles, which is certainly less than a day’s journey away.

    By adding together His two-day delay and one-day journey to Bethany and then subtracting that from the four days Lazarus had been in the grave, it is certain that Lazarus was already dead by the time Jesus got the message.

    So why the delay? Why did Jesus wait 2 more days before going to see Lazarus? As you said in the article and I quote, “God allows things to happen for the glory of His name.” What did Jesus say in John 11:15? “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe,” implying that if it had been possible to be there, He would not have let Lazarus die.

    Jesus made sure all the people knew that Lazarus was really dead and his body was starting to decay, before going there to raise Him up so He could show to all these people who did not believe in the resurrection that He is the resurrection and the life.

    As a result, “many who saw the glory of God in Christ’s raising Lazarus from the dead then believed in the Son of God” (John 11:41-45). It’s true, whatever difficulties and pain God is allowing us to go through, it will be all for His glory!

    God bless you Bro. Jess for the works you are doing for His glory, shalom!

    1. Hi Alice!
      Thank you for expounding further on the story. As I have mentioned on the earlier part of the article which is the high light of your comment, Jesus allows things to happen for the glory of His name. There are things and instances in our life that we do not and may need not understand at all, but if we only truly believe on what He is able do for us, we will be far better off accepting His will. That is why Jesus grieves over our unbelief.

      May God bless you more!

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