Discovering why Jesus wept

Dow Tippett - Contributing Columnist

Two small words haunt me, have haunted me for years. They speak to so many things and yet in so many ways they make no sense. They are found in John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” Sermon after sermon have been preached on these verses and their story, and still, even in context, I wonder, “Why?”

The story in short goes like this:

Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha, two women who supported Jesus’ ministry. Based on the report brought to Jesus, Lazarus was “loved” by Jesus. When Jesus receives the report he waits to return and help. He tells his disciples that “Lazarus is only sleeping.” At this point, he seems to know what the outcome of this story will be. He finally comes to Bethany, and Martha comes to meet him.

“If you had only been here, I know my brother would not have died.”

Jesus replies, “I am the resurrection and the life he who believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Jesus is trying to give Martha hope. He can and will raise Lazarus from the dead.

“Take me to where you have laid him.”

When Jesus comes to the place where Lazarus was laid, he weeps. Make no mistake, the word in Greek means bawled, cried out, tears flowing, snot in your beard, wept. But why?

He knows he will raise Lazarus so surely it is not for him. Some say it is the sight of a tomb with a stone over the front, but I don’t think the Lord of glory would be so selfish in this moment. Some say it is because he is just that overwhelmed by the weeping of the mourners. Some say it was Mary and Martha’s doubt.


But I wonder, is this the moment, that God in the flesh simply responds to the pain sin has caused, as He always does?

Death is the result of every man in all of history making the choice to raise himself into God’s place; however, and this is the sad truth, the good die also. Good people die because the world was broken in the garden by the choice of disobedience. The perfect life intended for all mankind was destroyed, because man trusted the devil, another person, and even himself above God. That truth has caused heartache again and again.

But here is a truth I believe, this is not the first time God wept over the death of the ones he loves, and I don’t believe it was the last. I believe that at this tomb, where people of faith found themselves overwhelmed by the reality of the wages of sin, where their pain was honest and deep, Jesus did what God has done since the Garden of Eden. He wept.

When parents lose children, when children lose parents, when good men and women are taken by death, God’s heart breaks with yours. I believe he grieves with you. I believe he feels your breaking heart and he weeps because he loves you and your pain breaks his heart.

As Easter approaches, I want the hurting to know, God is with you.

Dow Tippett is Associate Pastor of Faith Family Church.

Dow Tippett

Contributing Columnist