“Jesus wept” (Jn 11:35). As it has been said, “two little words: a whole verse, of infinite value.” It is not only the shortest verse in the Bible; it is one of the deepest. Volumes of meaning are expressed in the combination of these two words. Words that, separately, sound quite familiar to our ears, but summon pause when joined together. Both the term and the tense of the verb that is used may be more fully expressed: “began to flood with tears”—Jesus began to flood with tears. The Great I AM, who was and is and is to come, began to flood with tears. Selah.
The tears of God left their appointed place to spill-over and moisten the cheeks of the One who knew no sin and yet, in love, chose to bear sin’s penalty on behalf of sinners. He was afflicted with our penalty and suffered under consequences of our rebellion. Love has no deeper expression. This was a quiet weeping, a silent cry, a personal emotion not interested in sympathetic attention or credit for caring. It signaled deep emotional pain. He was the “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Is 53:3). He asked His closest disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They reported that some said that He was Jeremiah, who was well known as “the weeping prophet”—after all, it was Jeremiah who wrote Lamentations. We never see Jesus laughing in the Scripture, and yet we are told that, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears” (Heb 5:7). We see Him, shortly after the scene of John 11, approaching the holy city, Jerusalem, “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it” (Lk 19:41). His emotions were never more deeply expressed than when He looked upon unbelief in the hearts of His creatures. In three short years, Jesus faced more anguish of soul, more accumulated sorrow, and more acute pain than others meet in a lifetime. Yet, He was never embittered by it all. He did not become hardened of heart, cynical, or complaining. He was not impatient when repeatedly faced with human weakness nor vindictive with human rebellion. Instead, He cried out, “Father, forgiven them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
Jesus wept with those who wept. He hurt with those who hurt over the consequence of their sin and the sin of the world. Jesus wept. Were we made to weep? Are tears of sorrow to be seen in the new earth? We are promised that this One, who wept, will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev 21:4) when we enter His final Kingdom. Although He knew no sin, He came “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom 8:3) and willfully subjected Himself to feel the pain of the curse and all of sin’s consequences (cf. Gal 3:13). He was touched by our infirmities. He was no less able to feel the depth of human pain than He was able to save human souls. Indeed, we have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, “but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). Let us not forget that it was Jesus, the Word, who wept. The Word who was with God and who is God, wept.
We know that Christ knew the beginning from the end of this episode with Lazarus (cf. Jn 11:4, 15, 40). Yet, His intimate knowledge of past, present, and future did not prevent Him from entering into the pain of friends. How immensely instructive this is! While He works all things together for good to those who love Him (Rom 8:28), He fails not to feel our trials, with deep compassion. He sees our tears (cf. Is 38:5) and because of His sacrifice, all who trust in Him will someday have all tears personally transformed into joy (cf. Ps 126:5)—forever! May we pause and behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ and worship Him as our divine Loving and Sympathizing High Priest.
Jesus wept. Selah.