Scripture John 11:28-35
28 And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
Reader: This is the word of the Lord. Response: Thanks be to God.
This shortest verse in the Bible underscores this whole passage. Why did Jesus weep? He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew what was coming. So why cry? The mourners visiting Mary and Martha, assumed he was weeping because of the death of his friend. Was he weeping out of pity for the sisters because of the sadness of their own sadness? His was a different kind of weeping. Normal Jewish expression of sorrow at death would be a loud wailing which was the case of the sisters and those comforting them. The passage says that “deep anger” arose in Jesus. It may have been he was angered at the whole idea of death bringing this kind of grief to people. He was experiencing the “sting of death” and was angered by its reality. The word used for Jesus’ weeping is used only one time in the New Testament and it is here. The word is for a soft, subdued weeping. It seems most likely that his sorrow was for all of them in not grasping the bigger picture of who he was and what he had come to do. Here he was, only a few days from giving his life as the ultimate, perfect, and final sacrifice as the Lamb of God, and none of his friends or the people around him understood the magnitude of what was about to take place. The impact would eventually affect the entire universe! The people were so immersed in their own world and their perception of their world that they were unable to see with the eyes of faith. As the end of his earthly ministry approached, they still did not get it. Have you ever felt frustrated that someone you deeply loved, just couldn’t understand something? You tried and tried again to help them understand and it just did not happen. There is sorrow that they don’t understand and their is greater sorrow on what they are missing out on if they did understand. If they only understood, it would be so much better for them. There is joy and fulfillment they are missing. That brings a special kind of sad sorrow. Jesus knows exactly how you feel.
Music: “Death Shall Not Destroy My Comfort” Washington Master Chorale
Hymn: When Jesus Wept William Billings, 1746-1800
When Jesus wept, a falling tear
In mercy flowed beyond all bound.
When Jesus groaned, a trembling fear
Seized all the guilty world around,
Prayer: O Jesus, who wept over the death of Lazarus, be with all who grieve. O Jesus who wept alone in Gethsemane, be with all who feel alone, all who face difficult decisions. O Jesus who cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” be with all who are tortured, all who are victims. O Jesus who offered up prayers with loud cries and tears, hear our prayers. O living God who knows all our pain and joy, be with us in our lives. Amen.
―The Worship Sourcebook,p.573