Gospel Relevance

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Why Did Jesus Weep?

I do not think Jesus wept because Lazarus was dead.

In his book,Your Jesus Is Too Safe, (great book!), Jared C. Wilson, one of the most popular Christian bloggers in the world, writes, “The shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, tells us simply that “Jesus wept,” and his tears came from mourning his dear friend Lazarus.” I emailed Wilson and shared my thoughts on why I thought Jesus wept. His final statement in his reply back was “. . . you could be right.”

The verse does not say “Jesus wept because” . . . so any guess is speculation. The best thing to do, when situations as such arise, is to make sure our speculations are born out by the context of the passage (or passages).

Here’s part of what I emailed him and why I think Jesus wept:

. . . Jesus did weep. Yes. But did he really weep because Lazarus was dead? I do not think so. Up to this point, Jesus has healed a boy who was blind, walked on water, fed up to 5,000 people (many commentators believe it was upwards to 20,000 people) with five loaves of bread and two fish, and preached powerfully of the Kingdom of God. Even after all Jesus has done, the people around him are still doubting and not placing their faith truly in him — even some of his closest friends that he spends the most time with. Mary, even after she witnesses much of what Jesus had done, says to Jesus, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would have not died” (John 11:32). Here’s what I’ve always thought: Jesus wept because even after all he did people were still not placing their faith in him. They were battling unbelief. Their lack of faith led to the tears, not because Lazarus was dead. Jesus specifically was on his way to heal Lazarus, why would he be mourning over the fact that he was dead? He knew he was going to heal him. The news didn’t shock him. It was the people around him and their lack of faith that led to the tears . . .

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About David Qaoud

David Qaoud (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is associate pastor of Bethesda Evangelical Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and founder of gospelrelevance.com. His work has appeared on The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Banner of Truth. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and son. You can follow him on Twitter.

6 Replies

  1. Could be…might be…I’ve always wondered about that passage….

  2. Could be? Might be? Expand on your thoughts, David. I’d like to hear your perspective. Do you agree with my point?

  3. As Jared said, you could be right. 🙂 My thoughts about Jesus weeping has always been circling around Him showing that He is 100% human (and 100% God). This post stimulates me to read and see 🙂

  4. Patty Graham

    I love the revelation God has given to you on this passage of Scripture! The ultimate goal that God desires for all of us is that we “believe”. Believing is trusting the Word, the power of God, and the intent of His heart. The Word also says blessed are those who “mourn” Mt. 5:4. What does mourning indicate? Love, and God is love! Could it possibly also mean that Jesus was showing Mary and Martha how much he cared and loved them? When I care enough to cry and someone else cries with me, it shows me that they care, too.
    We should all have a tear that comes to our eyes, when we think of that Passover when our Lord sacrificed Himself in order to offer us eternal life!

  5. He wept because of the grief this miracle set-up was causing those who loved Lazarus. He knew Lazarus was sick and would die, yet he tarried elsewhere. This was the setup to bring glory to God and confirm His message via the miracle of raising Lazarus. But when Jesus arrived, he joined in the mourning, because (a) people were really overwhelmed with grief and (b) the grief was caused by the miracle set-up. Even as He knew their mourning would be changed to rejoicing, the grief phase really was sad.