“Jesus wept” (John 11:35)
Why did Jesus weep? In the previous devotional, we looked at the story of the death and resurrection of Lazarus.
Mary and Martha knew their brother was deathly ill. They sent a messenger to Jesus, asking him to come and intervene. Jesus was unmoved and waited two days before beginning the journey to Bethany with his disciples. Jesus arrived on the fourth day, and Lazarus was already dead.
In the meantime, Jesus had already explained his lack of urgency. Lazarus was not going to remain dead, and the witnesses were about to see a miracle of resurrection. In order for the resurrection to be authenticated, the law said that three days had to pass, and then death was officially declared.
Knowing the full story, the verse “Jesus wept” seems a little perplexing. If he was about to raise a dead man and change mourning to joy, why would he weep? Why not just do it and start the party?
It’s important to notice when Jesus wept. John 11: 32-24 says: “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 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.”
It was then that Jesus wept. Jesus did not weep for Lazarus. Lazarus was already dead and was about to be raised. Jesus wept for the mourners: his dear friends, his disciples, his followers.
Was Jesus surprised or shocked to find them weeping? Of course not. Human grieving naturally follows the death of dear friends and loved ones. This was certainly not the first time that Jesus had witnessed the reaction and grief that follows after death.
On the Mount of Beatitudes, another time and another place, Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Jesus didn’t raise every dead person that he encountered. If he had, the Gospels would be filled with resurrection stories. He didn’t save every individual who was at the threshold of death, not even himself on the cross.
Instead, in the words “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” Jesus acknowledges that every human life will end in death. And we will mourn.
At the tomb of Lazarus, we find the God whom we serve. We serve a God of love and compassion, of mercy and grace. Our Lord wept. Our God is not a distant and hard God, immune to the hearts of his people. Instead, our Lord weeps along with us when we mourn.
Jesus also calls us to be like him. How can those who mourn be blessed? Those who mourn are blessed when they are wrapped in the arms of their loving God. Those who mourn are blessed when the loving arms of God show up in the form of Jesus’ followers. When the people of God love like Jesus, weeping along with friends and family as Jesus did with his friends at the tomb of Lazarus and mourning with those who mourn, then those who mourn and grieve are blessed.
Blessed are those who mourn, when the disciples of Jesus are living and loving like Jesus. That’s what those who are called to lead and who have chosen to follow Jesus will be and will do.
Revelation 21: 3-5 is our promise and hope that mourning will end and death will be no more: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services