Jesus Wept
John 11:17-44 ESV

Jesus Wept

We saw from last week that Jesus is like 20 miles away…the Bible says He is where “John was baptizing at first, which would have been somewhere on the East side of the Jordan River near Perea, which is somewhere near Jericho.  

This town Bethany is said here to be about two miles away, which is super close, and was just East of Jerusalem situated on the Mt of Olives on the East side of that mount.  This is the exact location where Jesus would ascend to heaven and is the exact location of His return at the second coming of Jesus Christ according to Zechariah 14. 

  1. The Faith of Martha “17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles[c] off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[d] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
    1. V17 The timing of Jesus was so late that by the time He arrives, this man has been dead for four days.  
      1. The decomposition of Lazarus body is now well underway and 
      2. the grieving over his passing is also well underway.  
      3. All hope of Lazarus recovering has died and has been buried with him in that tomb and for days his sisters and 
    2. V19 Many of the Jews – this would have been family members and friends – the funeral was typically done right after death with a funeral procession to the grave where the funeral and eulogies would take place followed by  morning for seven days within the home with those same family and friends.  
    3. V 20-22 Martha goes to Jesus, while she is grieving, hears that Jesus is coming and she comes to Jesus. 
      1. Remember the story of when Jesus is teaching at the house of Mary and Martha?  Back then, It was Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus then, but in this instance, it is Martha who, even in her grief decides to run to Jesus and express “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” This may seem like a, “Where WERE you?”  at first, but she goes on to express something else.  
      2. She says, “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” EVEN NOW…whatever you ask from God, God will give you.  Though you didn’t come, and though my brother is dead, whatever you ask from God, God will give you. This is such a great statement of faith that it almost seems as if Martha is expressing the fact that she BELIEVES that Jesus can overcome even death there and raise her brother from the dead, right?  It is at least a glimmer of this faith. 
    4. V23-27 Jesus tells her that Lazarus will rise again. 
      1. Was Jesus asking her to have faith in the resurrection of the Just?  Martha seems to take it this way and responds that she believes that Lazarus will raise on the Last day.  
      2. Jesus then bypasses the whole question of her brother and goes right to the heart of what is really important.  He uses the resurrection as a springboard into His true identity and said, “I am the resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me will never die.”  Is this not like Jesus? He is always seeking our heart with the Gospel and who HE IS, which is God in the flesh. Then He asks her if she believes. Right in the middle of Her tragedy, right in the middle of her grieving and asking of help, He wants her to stop and consider who it is that she is talking to.  Is he a Rabbi? A teacher? Miracle worker who showed up too late? He asks her is she believes.  
      3. What timing.  It seems off, doesn’t it?  What kind of timing is it to bring up who YOU are or even who God is, and preach at someone who is the middle of grieving? We are taught that the best thing that you can do for a person in that state is to just listen.  But Jesus knew that there was no better time than in one of Martha’s darkest hours to point her attention to what this all was really going to MEAN.  Things were going to happen, and she needed to have her mind focused by Jesus on what these things really MENT so she could receive who Jesus REALLY was. 
  1. Jesus Wept “28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[e] in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
    1. V 28-35 Jesus is asking for Mary and the whole company comes with her thinking she is on her way back to the tomb.  
      1. We see a similar statement by Mary of faith that if Jesus had been there, Lazarus would NOT have died.  
      2. But the conversation seems to stop there because Jesus sees her crying.  That kind of changes things, doesn’t it? Sometimes when you see someone crying?  This was the woman that had learned from Him while she sat at His feet and now He sees her again at His feet, but this time crying.  
      3. He also saw the mourners and the great weeping 
      4. that they made Him “deeply moved”, that is embrinmoamai, or GROANED and He was “troubled,” that is tarasso or disturbed, distressed, stirred up could be used for boiling water, perplexed and filled with a kind of dread.  It was a wrenching grief, that caused him to WEEP. 
      5. He is not someone who is cold and stoic, controlled only by logic and systematic theology, but rather touched by seeing others suffering from the evil effects of sin and death and what it does to people.  
      6. Imagin if you lost a loved one, some of you recently HAVE…and Jesus, if He were there would not be saying dismissively “Everything happens for a reason” and then going about his business asking what is for lunch and moving on…He would be weeping.  
    2. V 36 His weeping gets a reaction.  
      1. Those that see him weeping could not help say, “See how He loved him!”  
      2. I don’t know how you have to weep in Eastern culture for professional mourners to be impressed, but this was no quiet sobbing.  
      3. This was not a courtesy cry, but something that would have gotten the attention of the crowd in such a way as to convince them beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus loved this man.   He was likely scream crying.  
    3. V 37 The second reaction is to ponder who Jesus WAS.  “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
      1. He was known as a miracle worker because of the knowledge of what he had done for the blind man (likely the same blind man spoken of in chapter 9, since it would have likely been in the same geographical area).  
      2. Are not even they kind of wondering about the timing of his arrival?  They ask the question, if He could have opened the eyes of the blind, could He have not kept this man from dying?  A good question, and subtext of which is, “Oh well. Too late now.”  
      3. This is an understandable reaction seeing that Lazarus has been dead a full four days.  
      4. Also, Jesus is crying, which isn’t giving anyone any clues as to what He is about to do.  If someone is crying that is normally bound up in powerlessness in some way. If Jesus is crying it pretty much stands to reason that there is nothing He can do, and He is coming to grips with the loss of His friend Lazarus. 

Five Points of Application 

  1. God’s Timing isn’t our timing.  He is not creating His schedule with your comfort zone in mind, He is creating it with the gift of Himself to you in mind.  We sometimes do not see who Jesus really is until we are rescued from a very dark place. Sometimes things have to go South in our lives before we see the glory. You don’t get to see the red sea part until you are TRAPPED.  Are some of you trapped? Be encouraged! I’m not telling you to be happy, because that would be nonsense, but be encouraged because waters don’t part until we are trapped, and we don’t see the dead raised until there is death. Remember who Jesus IS and what HE went through at the cross.
  2. Run to Jesus. Notice that Martha did the right thing when she heard that Jesus was on His way.  She didn’t wait for Him to come to her, she ran to him! That should be our posture as well, even when it seems that God is a day late and a dollar short.  We like to run to all sorts of other functional saviors and solutions we should run to Him for our comfort. 
  3. Who is Jesus to YOU? Notice that Jesus is not afraid to go right past the tragedy to what is really important, which is Martha’s soul.  He wants to make sure that she does not MISS the significance of what is about to happen. The risk is that Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and they all say, “Wow, what a miracle!” and miss the whole point of the miracle.  The point is the Lazarus raising, the point is who raised Lazarus and what that MEANS. It means just what Martha says here, I BELIEVE, YOU ARE THE CHRIST. Don’t get distracted by circumstances, miracles, and even tragedy. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ and that He is able to raise your life from the grave and give you life everlasting?  How do you know if you have believed? If you have given your life to Him.  
  4. Jesus wept.  I’m not much of a crier temperamentally.  As a scientist I find some kinds of emotional expression a bothersome reality of our existence.  Not emotions themselves, but the expression of emotion and the obsession with emotion that human beings have.  We are all emotional, because we as the human race have been created as such.  
    1. Jesus, who became a Man entered into that and was therefore emotional.  He didn’t lose control of his emotions here but chose to enter into that passion we feel when we feel loss, bereavement and grief.   But what made him actually weep? In the passage it is when he saw the mourners and Mary. Jesus doesn’t just see you in your tragedy, He enters into it, He feels it.  
    2. Let me ask you, do you think that Jesus does not see YOU in your grief?  Jesus saw Mary crying and He started to cry. Can you picture Jesus crying over your grief, because that is who He is.  In Hebrews it says that He is NOT a high priest that CANNOT be touched by our infirmity Hebrews 4:15 “ ” Look at when Stephen (Acts 7) was killed – Jesus, who had ascended to heaven, to the right hand of God the Father did not remain seated but STOOD at the death of Stephen (V56).  He is the one that doesn’t just see us but enters into what we are going through and feels our pain.  
    3.  I think it is interesting that Jesus didn’t weep in Garden of Gethsemane, nor did He weep when He was betrayed, He didn’t weep when He was condemned to death or when they nailed His hands and feet into the cross. He wept when He saw Mary weeping.  He keeps our tears in a bottle Psalm 56:8.
  1. All Part of God’s Plan. So if he weeps with us and feels our pain, why doesn’t he DO anything???  Is anyone asking that question this morning? Well, that’s the same question that was on the minds of Mary and Martha and the mourners.  EVERYONE was thinking this. They may be coming to that conclusion that God may be good, He just in powerful enough to keep bad things happen to good people.  Where is God in YOUR trial? Where IS He?  

You have to understand that these trials are so much bigger than just YOU.  If you look at this occurrence, it set in motion a series of events that lead to things that went far beyond a death in the family for a particular family living in Judah.  It lead to 1. The Finalization of the plot to kill Jesus that would be fulfilled on the PASSOVER John 11:47-48, 57 “47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation… 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.” 2. John 12:12-18 “12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.” In fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9  This thing was connected to God’s plan from eternity past and had to happen just as it did. It touched EVERYTHING in this world and the next. This story has been read as a testament for almost 2000 years. This thing was BIG. It is the same in our lives. Everything that happens in our lives touches everything else in this world and then next.  

What are you going through right now?  Is God able to resurrect your marriage?  Your testimony? Your LIFE? Some of you have died in a way. Your life has been destroyed by your own horrible decisions or circumstances beyond your control.  God sees you in that and has the power to turn it all around, but first let’s acknowledge what is important. Who is Jesus to you? Because right now, the middle of your grief, Jesus is asking you if you believe in Him.  Are you going to be like Martha? If so, then don’t be surprised if Jesus changes your circumstances and turns the whole tragedy into a testimony of His resurrection power. He is SEEKING those that are willing to believe in Him.  

1 Peter 4:19 “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”