~ John 11:35
We have before us the shortest verse in the entire Bible. It may be empty of words but it is full of matter. In the eleventh chapter is the account of the raising of Lazarus. His sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word to Jesus saying, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” After He received this message he tarried where He was for two days before setting out for Bethany.
By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus “had lain in the grave four days already.” As He approached Bethany, Martha met him first and later Mary met him. They were weeping and grieving over the loss of their brother. The Jews that followed Mary were also weeping audibly. Jesus saw all this mourning, the Bible says “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled,” and He asked, “Where have ye laid him?” When He was about to come to the grave of Lazarus, “Jesus wept.” As we stand in awe and behold the God-Man weeping, I shall endeavor to answer some questions, at least to provide us with comfort and encouragement.
First, Why did Jesus weep? He had testified, “This sickness is not unto death.” Could He have felt sorrow for Lazarus? He knew Lazarus’ state. Lazarus had escaped the sin and sorrow of the world. If Christ did weep at all for Lazarus, it would have been in sorrow that he was going to return to this sin-cursed world and leave a perfect rest.
Jesus was brought into sympathy with Mary, Martha, and the other Jews that were mourning. We see here His humanity manifested. He took up the robe of flesh and traversed the whole human experience. The scriptures declare He “was in all points tempted like as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). He knew exhaustion, hunger, thirst, pain, sorrow, grief, and the like. The prophet of old said He would be “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). He is not a cold stony god of men’s imaginations. He is the living God and He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15). We find here a great compassion. It is a cold heart indeed that is not moved at the sight of a grieving family bidding farewell to their departed loved one. Jesus Christ was moved with compassion and wept with those that wept.
Second, What can we learn from this instance? We certainly know that we should have compassion, mourning with those that mourn and seeking to comfort them and be a blessing to them. Paul instructed the Romans to “condescend to men of low estate” (Romans 12:16). He also wrote, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We are our brother’s keeper and we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. From example as well as precept, Jesus teaches us to have compassion. We also have a golden key to prayer supplied in this verse.
Jesus said, “Follow me.” He also said, “Come ye after me,” and “learn of me.” The child of God is to be a student of the life of Christ. We ought always to be tracing out His steps, seeking to walk there ourselves. If Christ has suffered and been tempted like we, then we find matter for our petitions. Are you sorrowing? Have you been visited by death and lost that one who was close? You should find encouragement here to pray. Go to Christ, plead His own experience and apply for sufficient grace. If you are weeping, go to Him that wept. If you are in pain, go to Him that suffered pain. Whatever your plight, He knows your experience and He will take care of you. It is precisely these instances that appeal to us making Jesus so approachable and accessible.
We find here a compassionate Savior. We find here a friend and a loving God. How much did Christ love His people? How much did He identify with them? “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4). The love of Christ “passeth knowledge.” But finding one so in touch with your weakness urges you to be “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
“Hallelujah, what a Savior!”