Jesus Wept (John 11:35)
The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, “Jesus wept”. I find this verse fascinating because it “blows the lid” off the idea that Jesus came to conquer death and was unemotional about the whole thing, or that he was somehow so eternally minded and saw the bigger picture that he was un-phased by death. It’s also amazing that the passage that records “Jesus wept” was recorded at the loss of his friend, Lazarus. I guess, I would think these words would be suited better for when he was on the cross or when his friend, Judas, betrayed him. Although weeping had to have also happend at these times, the scripture that records it is here, in John 11, at the loss of his friend.
If you are like me, you read those words and translate it to mean, “Jesus was kind of sad so he shed a few tears”, except that’s not true because that’s not even the definition of weeping. Webster defines weeping as, “expressing deep sorrow for … by shedding tears, to pour forth (tears) from the eyes, to express passion (as grief) by shedding tears”. Jesus didn’t have a few tears over Lazarus’ death,The Great I Am was pouring forth tears, expressing passion in his grief. But this beauty of Jesus doesn’t stop at the reality that he grieved over his friend …
Jesus wept even though he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead John 11: 11 records. In fact, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus died, just to raise him from the dead (John 11:4, 17). Jesus knew Lazarus wasn’t going to die but live. Do you understand what these verses are revealing about Jesus? Jesus wept because of death, even though life was coming for Lazarus, is still painful. Christians often miss this and miss out on loving a grieving person well because they fail to understand that one simple, yet impactful, reality: death is painful for the ones left behind even if life awaits for the ones who died.
Jesus’ response to someone’s pain of grief is the perfect example of how to love well in the midst of someone experiencing loss. Jesus showed “all his cards” to those who looked at him as the Messiah. He let people in to see that he, even as the Messiah, weeps for us (John 11:36). Jesus didn’t try to be “tough” but showed compassion. Jesus wasn’t arrogant as if these people were missing who he is and what he came to do, he saw their pain and felt it. Why do we try to do anything different for our friends and loved ones grieving? Weep with them and let them feel the depth of their pain because it’s there that their faith takes deeper root.
If you want to get a little guts about you, feel their pain and then go to your Father in Heaven, and be on your knees for them in prayer. When Moses parted the Red Sea, in Exodus, he had to keep his arms lifted in the air or else the sea would collide together again and the Israelites would. I can only imagine that this process got long, tiring, emotionally wearing, and nearly impossible for Moses to do alone. If it wasn’t for Mose’s friends, Hur and Aaron (Exodus 17:12), who came and held up Moses’ arms (one on each side) so he could continue to do the work God had for him. Your grieving friend needs you to be the lifter of their hands while God lifts their head. You cannot “part the waters” for them. This is where God has them and it’s not for you to try and figure out why, but as God lifts their head, you be the lifter of their arms. Be willing to be tired and weary, speak the truth in love, and hold up your brother or sister’s arms.