John 11: Jesus Wept

John 11

I have always viewed this passages as one of compassion and it has always comforted me. But when one studies the original Greek, a very different meaning comes out. Verses 33b-35 record Jesus’ reaction to the people mourning when Lazarus is dead. “He was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.”

On first reading you are touched. Wow, Jesus loved him so much! But when you really look at it logically you think, wait a minute, he knows he is going to raise him up and he knows Lazarus won’t be dead in a minute. He had also just asked Mary if she believes he could raise Lazarus - so why did he cry? This doesn’t really make sense. Sooo I dig in, and a little walk through the Greek is now necessary. The term “deeply moved” in the Greek here actually means a personal indignation. Same as verse 38. Same as in Mark 1:43 when Jesus sternly tells the Leper to go away and tell no one (because he knows what will happen). Or the indignation Jesus showed in Mark 14:5 when the disciples were mad over the woman spending so much money on the oil she used to anoint Jesus, instead of spending it on the poor - it was that same feeling. He was upset over the amount of grief they were showing over the death when he clearly was teaching them that it was temporary. They were grieving like the pagans. He even said to Martha in verse 23 “Your brother will rise again.” and she responded in 24 “I know he will on the last day”. Even though some grief was understandable - they were acting as if there was no hope!

Also, looking at verse 35, which has always been one of my favorite verses. I had to set with it and see if what I had loved about it held up. “Jesus wept.” Why? He was sad over his friends death? Was that true? Did it make sense or was I just trying to make myself feel better all these years thinking Jesus felt just like I did? If Jesus had stated earlier that this was for the glory of God and he waited to go, and that Lazarus was asleep - then he already knew he was dead. He was upset at the way they were grieving - so why cry? Geez, - back to the Greek. The Greek word here actually has the connotation of silently bursting into tears. These were not from mourning because he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead but from a fallen, world entangled in sin, causing sorrow and death. Isaiah says it well in 53:3, “He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” So while Jesus was grieved, it was not because he felt the same grief as me - but because of me. Because my sins, yet again, cause him grief. And he still loved me enough to sacrifice himself. That I should ever be grateful.




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