Why Jesus Wept

By Rob Beames

John 11:35. For being the shortest verse in Bible, it’s amazing how many lengthy discussions it’s inspired. Maybe we just like to complicate things, especially when talking about God, or maybe, as men, we’re fascinated with what looks like a character flaw in Jesus. Whereas there’s plenty to discuss about this verse, it’s really not that complicated.
Simply stated: Jesus wept because His heart broke. There’s really no need to take it any further than that. For some who have difficulty connecting with their emotions, it may not make much sense; but for everyone else it’s simple. His heart breaks and the tears flow.
There’s also a simple reason why we try to complicate this verse: It’s because it’s impossible to wrap our minds around the concept of God. That is as it should be. God’s incomprehensibleness is part of what makes Him God. We may struggle to balance the divine nature of Jesus with His human nature, but in fact, it’s more than a struggle, it’s genuine futility. And yet we keep on… in an effort to reach a comfortable conclusion.
One of the explanations for this verse is that Jesus wept because sin introduced death into our world, and it was not intended to be this way, so this saddened Him. Hmm, I don’t so. How much sense would it make for Jesus to be pondering the ramifications of sin’s effect on the world while He hugged His beloved friend Mary as she violently sobbed with grief? Imagine your best friend coming to you in a time of great sorrow saying, “I’m sad, because it isn’t right that there is pain in the world like yours.” What kind of friend would that be? No one is ever comforted by a philosophical world view. We are comforted when people allow our pain to break their hearts because they deeply love us. We are encouraged when people care enough about us to suffer along with us, even though it’s not their struggle. We are moved by a love that takes the heavy burden of grief on its shoulders when it could just walk away.
When Jesus looked into the face of His dear friend Mary, she must have pierced His heart with her intense, painful gaze of grief for her brother’s death. Being 100 percent human—not simply cloaked in humanness as a disguise—Jesus felt Mary’s pain. He hurt because of her anguish. This was the weight which broke the heart of Jesus—no more, no less.
Undoubtedly God is saddened by our sinful existence here in this life, but we don’t need to explore His sovereign attributes in order to explain His human reactions. In fact, we may miss the most potent message of this seemingly insignificant verse if we travel too far down that road.
The amazing theological implications of these two words are quite simply boiled down to this: Although Jesus never ceased to be God, at one specific point in time, He also became entirely human and walked the earth. He became human enough to die and human enough to have His heart broken. That makes Him human enough to be intimately acquainted with our agony, hardship or deep-seated grief.
Maybe what throws us off track is that we know Jesus planned to bring Lazarus back from the dead. He cited it as the reason He delayed going to him for two days, so that the Son of God would be glorified. Why cry if you know the end game, right? We should not let this truth overshadow the fact that Jesus lived bound by the confines of time and biology. His knowledge of the future would not have shielded Him from the intensity of grief, any more than knowing we will rise again protects us from grieving one of our own deceased loved ones.
This is part of how Jesus is not only perfect as God but also perfect in the human sense. His comfort for us in this life is sufficient and complete; it is based in the foundational experience of a heart utterly broken. His tears flow with ours out of His great love for us—a love as great as it was for Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Knowing the end game doesn’t shield Him from sharing the pain of those that He deeply loves. Our God not only suffered for us but suffers with us until the perfectly appointed time at which He will right all things.
Don’t overanalyze it. Jesus wept because He cared deeply then to the same degree He cares about us now. (I believe He wanted me to remind you of this.)

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