It is the shortest verse of the 31,102 verses in the Bible. But its significance is so easily overlooked. We read the verse and naturally ask ourselves, “What made the Lord cry?” Why was He so deeply affected by the situation that He was moved to tears?
The New Testament only records two times the Lord shed tears – once in Luke 19:41 when He approached His beloved city, Jerusalem, and once in John 11:35 when He is about to raise His friend, Lazarus, from the dead.
In the context of Luke 19:41, Jesus is sorry for the unbelief of the city specifically and His people, the Jews, generally.
He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. John 1:11
When His coming to die on a cross for the sins of every human being is rejected in unbelief, it breaks the heart of a loving, merciful Savior…and He weeps!
The other time Jesus weeps, in John 11:35, His sorrow is caused by believers, in fact, by close friends who know He is the Savior. So we’ve got to ask ourselves, “What made Jesus cry in that situation?”
The story is familiar. Starting in John 11:1, Mary and Martha send for the Lord because Lazarus, their brother and His friend, is sick. These folks are believers Jesus knows. When He travels to Jerusalem He stays at their home in Bethany. This believing friend is gravely ill yet Jesus does not come. He waits… Two days! The Word doesn’t say He’s busy. It doesn’t record that He had a task to finish before He could come. It just says that once He heard Lazarus was sick, He waits.
Have you ever had a need where time was running out? You pray and… nothing. You ask God to move on your behalf… and He waits! It’s happened to me. It’s easy for us to begin to think that God just doesn’t care about us. And then – time runs out.
In Mary and Martha’s case, Lazarus dies! We see their anguish in verses 21 and 32. They both express their faith mixed in with an accusation. Basically they proclaim, “We believe you could have cured our brother BUT now he’s dead and there’s nothing you can do. IF you would have come earlier, You could have done a miracle BUT now, it’s too late!”
And Jesus weeps.
He doesn’t weep because Lazarus is dead. He already has a plan to raise him from the dead to the glory of God. He doesn’t cry because He’s too late since He specifically waited until Lazarus had died. No, Jesus weeps because these two Christ followers had a very limited faith. They only believed He could work within the confines of their own small expectations. Oh, they believed Jesus could heal their brother. But they didn’t believe The Lord was capable of raising him from the dead. They had faith to a point but no farther… and Jesus wept.
Don’t we do that very same thing? Do we believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior yet not believe Him capable of miracles in our modern lives? Do we pray that He will work and then put limits on how we expect Him to do that work? Really? Is that unlimited faith? Is that unlimited trust?
So often in my life I have called out to God over some emergency or other. I’ve placed a timetable on the Lord based upon what circumstances seem to be dictating. I tell the Lord He’s got to work within a certain timeline or in a specific manner and, more often than not, He waits… and makes me wait! Then He provides miracles in totally unexpected ways. Ways that bring praise and glory to His name from my quivering lips.
When we read the story of Christ’s life, we see Him shedding tears twice. Once for non-believers He loves, and once for believers He loves. Both groups have disappointed and saddened Him with their lack of faith. One group lacks saving faith, the other lacks living faith.
We all like to talk about seeing God’s glory…. Jesus makes that very point at the end of the story with Lazarus. After Martha objects to Jesus opening the tomb because of the smell, Jesus lovingly asks her a question that resounds in the heart of every follower wishing to please Him,
Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40
Jesus meant, “If you believe with no limitations on My power… no lines I cannot cross… nothing at all that I cannot do, you will see My glory!”
Do you believe Jesus Christ is God almighty? Really? Do you believe there is nothing He cannot do? No timeline He can’t overcome? That’s what He wants. That’s acknowledging that He is indeed The All Mighty. All Mighty. Standing back and letting Him do anything He wants in our lives without putting any kind of limits on His miraculous working will indeed give Him glory… and dry those holy tears.
All glory to our God, the Lord, Jesus Christ! No limits!
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
Believing Anything Less Makes Jesus Weep
Think about it.