As a church we are currently completing a series called “I Am Second” and also digging deeper in our faith on Wednesday evenings using the study guide by the same name. It is not necessarily a series or a study as much as it is a movement. There is the book that kicked it all off and the daily devotional that came out this year to help you live second in your day-to-day life. Last night we were talking about the story of Jesus resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. In the midst of the story, we are told that Jesus experienced a very human emotion and let tears flow forth from his eyes. We discussed why we thought he was crying and the possibilities we came up with follow after the break.
The first possibility we discussed is potentially the most obvious. He was weeping because he had lost a close friend in Lazarus. We know that Jesus cared for this man because in John 11:3 the words come to Jesus that “the one you love is sick”. It is natural for us to shed tears when someone we care about has died. Why should we expect anything different from Christ? This is the answer that is usually given when people try to understand why Jesus cried.
The second explanation discussed is one of sorrow. He was crying because the people gathered around did not believe that Lazarus could be resurrected. Christ never doubted the power that was given to him, but those that surrounded him did. Before the tears were shed, Jesus told Martha that her brother was to be resurrected. She took that to mean later, but Christ meant right then. I wonder how often we grieve God simply because we do not believe the things He has told us. Instead of taking Christ’s words at face value we try to second guess the commands given.
The last potential reason for Christ’s tears was that He was angry. In verse thirty-two of John chapter eleven Mary approaches Jesus and puts him through the ringer. Jesus is told by Mary that if He had been there her brother would not have died. Now, to be fair you are only left with recorded words and we cannot be sure that she said it in an angry tone, but those words are fairly harsh. She is blaming Lazarus’ death on Jesus and letting it be known that if He would have hurried there instead of going back to Judea, Lazarus would still be alive. I have found myself acting like Mary before and blaming an outcome in life on God’s lack of provision. We shout at God because a loved one just passed on and He seemed to turn His face from our cries for help.
Which one of these is completely accurate? I do not know. I can see truth in every one of these. I see how Jesus would love someone enough to mourn over their death. I would understand that Christ is disappointed in us at our unbelief and it makes Him grieve. I can also understand if Christ was angry because Mary was blaming Him for the death of her brother. All these seem like valid reasons for the tears.
What about you? Why do you think Jesus wept? Is it out of love for a friend or because people did not believe His words? Or, is it because He was getting the blame for something? Leave a comment below.