I am reposting this blog post that I wrote in 2008 because as I was reading it again I was struck by my own words, and the comfort I found in them then I found again tonight. I am by no means suggesting that this is how things unfolded at the grave of Lazarus, but it is how my mind somewhat imagines it.
“Jesus wept” one of the shortest verses in the Holy Bible, found in John 11:35. One noun and one verb – the sentence could not be simpler; yet, the complexities of its meaning defy human comprehension. The realization that He wept is always something that speaks to me and intrigues me. Jesus our Savior crying, why? Although I cannot fathom as to what our Lord must have felt in the moment that this verse speaks of; I have found those 2 words so encouraging this last week.
Jesus stood in the midst of the people mourning the death of Lazarus. He heard their cries of pain and loss, as the stench and ugliness of death engulfed Him Lazarus had died four days ago. It must have been a chilling scene. In the midst of this dark moment of weeping and sorrow, Jesus felt intense pain, in the loss of His friend and we are told that He groaned in the spirit and that He was troubled (John 11:33) and then He wept. I ponder the moment of my Savior crying at the grave of Lazarus, I seek to understand the reasons for His grief.
An important point to remember: throughout this ordeal, Jesus knew that, in a matter of minutes, He was going to be raising Lazarus from the dead. John 11:4speaks of Jesus acknowledging that it would all be for the glory of God, and that the Son of God would be glorified through it. He was aware that He would be performing a miracle. If Jesus knew that Lazarus would soon be alive again, why the tears? Why would He feel such deep sorrow just before He was due to perform a joyous miracle?
I believe that Jesus felt a deep love for Lazarus and all mankind, and when you love someone, you empathize with that person’s pain. This verse speaks volumes of the extraordinary love of Jesus Christ for each soul that He created. He felt the heartbreak of those around Him. Such feelings would be painful enough, but I believe His pain and sorrow went even deeper than that single moment in time.
The heart of Jesus was sensitive in itself, but He was also aware of the thoughts of all the mourners around Him. We are told often throughout the bible that Jesus perceived the thoughts of those who were near Him. He felt the pain we all feel when someone we love dies or when we see others suffer, but, I believe, that pain was multiplied many times over as He also felt the pain of the dozens of people surrounding Him. It was as if the grief of each person present was laid upon the heart of Jesus. The heavy burden of their anguish would have been agonizing to the loving heart of Christ. Jesus was being bombarded by an incredible, overwhelming sense of loss that brought Him to tears.
This sense of loss He felt for Lazarus’ death was intensified as He considered the impact of death on mankind. This was just one situation out of countless millions throughout the world and across centuries — in which death seemed to be declaring a victory. Jesus had come to this earth to bring life, to trample death underfoot, and to bring eternity into the hearts of men and women. Yet, here He stood, observing the power death still had on men. The depth of His sorrow must have spanned the ages, past and future, and He wept for every soul who would ever lose a loved one to death.
After the display of Jesus’ humanity, love and empathy He spoke the words “Lazarus Come Forth!”. Jesus conquered death through His sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary. The resurrection and eternal life in heaven are promises for all who believe on His Holy Name.
As long as we live on this earth, we will be subject to all the sadness that surrounds us. It may not be something as final as death. But we all go through times that we feel sad and we just want to cry. To me the most comforting thought is that Jesus knows when I am sad and I believe He still feels our pain like He felt the pain of the people mourning Lazarus’ death. I truly believe that Jesus empathizes when we cry, and He picks us up in His loving arms and we feel His precious love anew again.