“Jesus wept”- John ch11 v35
The above is known to lovers of statistics as the shortest verse in the Bible.
For this, we may thank Robert Stephanus, who set up the verse divisions in the New Testament.
It’s also short enough to be used as an expletive- most famously by the magisterial BBC commentator Richard Dimbleby (you won’t remember him) at
an unguarded moment.
But why did Jesus weep? That is the important question.
It is a key moment in the story of Lazarus. This begins with reports of his illness, followed by the report of his death, and comes to a climax when
Jesus arrives on the scene and summons him out of the tomb.
In the preceding verse, “Jesus said ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him “Lord, come and see’” Then the Jews saw that Jesus wept,
and they said “See how he loved him!”
That was a natural assumption, but it is one of those classic misunderstandings which we find in John’s gospel.
Jesus had no reason to mourn the loss of Lazarus, because he knew very well that he would raise Lazarus from the dead. He had already told Martha
“Your brother will rise again”. When Martha expressed her faith in the resurrection “at the last day”, Jesus responded “I am the
resurrection and the life”. That was the nearest he got to announcing his intentions (vv23-25).
To understand his reaction at the tomb, we must look back to the moment of his arrival there.
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (v33).
He was not troubled because he was mourning the loss of Lazarus.
He was troubled because Mary and Martha and their friends were mourning the loss of Lazarus.
Thus the cause of his grief was the existence of human mourning.
But human mourning itself is caused by the fact that people die.
In effect, then, he was mourning the existence of Death.
This has a much wider application than the story of Lazarus.
The grief of Jesus over the existence of death is emblematic of the whole of John’s gospel.
Indeed, it is emblematic of the entire New Testament.
It is the motivation for what happens in the New Testament.
The whole story of the Incarnation of Christ, and his death on the Cross, and his Resurrection, could be summed up in this way;
Jesus saw that people die.
Jesus came to do something about it.
edit on 29-3-2018 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)