“Jesus Wept”

“Jesus Wept.” John 11:35
This is one of the most human stories of the Bible; its counterparts may be found in every city in the world. Tragedy has lain bare the noble soul of Mary of Bethany for two crushing blows have fallen upon her. Her brother died; and Jesus of Nazareth has failed her. "Now a certain man named Lazarus was sick . . . . Therefore his sisters sent unto Jesus, saying, Lord, behold he whom thou lovest is sick." And with that statement went the hopes and prayers of two sincere hearts.
"When Jesus had heard therefore that Lazarus was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was." The messenger was permitted to return alone, and the apparent indifference of the Saviour surely dealt a most painful blow to those who anxiously awaited His coming. When Lazarus died, the grief of his sisters was greatly intensified -Jesus had failed them. To them, His action seemed both heartless and inexcusable. Each time Mary considered the problem, the tendency to become bitter increased in her soul. 

Perhaps only the people who have similarly suffered will appreciate her anguish. The problems of sickness and suffering are ever before us; but when eager, anxious prayers remain unanswered, even the strongest faith can be shaken. The Lord Jesus deliberately stayed away, and in her acute disappointment Mary forgot to consider that His action might have been dictated by wisdom.

"Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again . . . . Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him; but, Mary sat still in the House." Why did she linger at home? Her sister went to meet the Lord, and the entire world knows of the confession that soon fell from her lips. But When asked about Mary, Martha had to explain the cause of her sister's absence. And is it not significant how Jesus abruptly discontinued His walk toward the beloved home! When Mary eventually came to Him, "Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him" (verse 30). Why did He not accompany Martha and so save time? The Lord Jesus was very wise. The raising of Lazarus would not be as difficult as the healing of a wounded soul. Was Mary a little bitter? Was she still hurt because Christ had failed to respond in the hour of her greatest need? The new delay, the delay in Christ's entry into the town, is most suggestive. When Mary heard that Jesus was calling for her, her great love swept aside all hindrances and she arose and came quickly.
And when Jesus came to the tomb, "He lifted up his eyes, and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me." The prayer of the Saviour was all-embracing. The vision of man might have been limited to the tomb and the possibility of a miracle; He looked beyond, to the transformation taking place in the hearts of His followers. Until that day, He had been to the Bethany family a Friend and a possible Messiah; but Martha had now exclaimed, "Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God which should come into the world." Some day, Lazarus would die again; but if Jesus be the Son of God, new meaning might be found in His message, "Let not your heart be troubled . . . . I go to prepare a place for you . . . that where I am there ye may be also." The victory won in their souls that day far exceeded the triumph obtained at the tomb. It was for this reason that Christ delayed His response to the prayer of the two sisters. Had He immediately responded, they would have lost their greatest blessing. The eclipse was but a shadow; it passed away, and Mary's path to the sunshine was clearly revealed. This pathway has never become overgrown. It remains open for all weary travelers.
The shortest verse in the Bible is probably one of the greatest. Every student of Scripture appreciates the wonder of the miracles, yet it is problematical whether any supernatural display of healing power could ever present a greater sight than that of tears on the Lord's cheeks. It surpasses understanding that the King of angels should weep, and it is almost incomprehensible that He who had known eternal splendor should become acquainted with the heart-breaks of sinful men. There are three instances of such weeping recorded in the Word of God and a study of these texts reveals Progression of thought.
The death of Lazarus brought great grief to his sorrowing sisters and it is easy for us to appreciate the poignancy of the scene described in John 11:33, "When Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit and was troubled." And within a few moments the watching crowd saw that "Jesus wept." Some of the greatest thinkers of the Church have advanced reasons for this expression of grief. (1) He wept in sympathy for His friends. Yet this reason can hardly be acceptable, for why should Christ weep in sympathy when He knew that Lazarus would soon be restored to his sisters? (2) He wept because He was about to bring Lazarus back into a world of sin. It is difficult to accept this explanation, for the Saviour had already said that this event would bring glory to His Father. (3) He wept because of the irreparable suffering which had been brought to God's fair world. Many graves would be in the vicinity of the tomb of Lazarus, and Christ knew that behind each burial place was a tale of woe. Disease and death had appeared to mar man's joy, and the scene around Christ was anything but what God had intended. Sin had hurt the world, and the contemplation of the tragedy hurt the Saviour. He wept.
"And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round . . .and shall lay thee even with the ground . . . because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation" (Luke 19:44). 

When the Lord Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem, the crowds ceased their shouting, "Hosannah to the Son of David," and as they slowly went away into the streets, the disappointed disciples realized they had lost their greatest opportunity of establishing the Kingdom. The tears of their Master had banished thoughts of glory. He wept because Israel's rejection of their Messiah would bring inescapable destruction to the city of David. The Lord knew all that would shortly take place, and the fact that their fate seemed to be thoroughly deserved could never take the pain from His heart. Had He been able to save the people, He would have done so; but, alas, there were certain things which even Christ could not do.

"Christ . . . who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him who was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared" (Hebrews 5:7). In describing the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, Luke declared, "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." The writer to the Hebrews added the significant detail that tears mingled with the blood. Already the Lord Jesus was feeling the weight of a world's iniquity; already, He was beginning to taste the bitterness of His cup of sorrow. The garden conflict was the introductory stage of the triumph of the cross. The greatness of His desire to save the lost carried Him through that night of agony; but we shall never know how much our sins hurt the Son of God. It is significant that the epistle to the Hebrews mentions "strong crying and tears." His anguish was not expressed in silent weeping but in agonized sobs. How greatly Jesus must have loved us. 

Nothing can hide the amazing wonder that He who had been responsible for the creation of the universe, He who was so divine, so strong, so omnipotent, was also so human that His cheeks became wet with tears. Amen.