The Divine Display Of Humanity: Why Did Jesus Weep?

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Published by Shannon Jacobs



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As we examine John 11:35, the briefest verse in the Holy Bible, many become fascinated by Christ’s sense of humanity. Some may take a look at this text in a different way and evaluate their own understanding of his personality and nature.

Despite its shortness, this verse presents numerous questions. Why did Jesus weep? He was God manifested in human form. He understood how everything would end, no matter what hurdles he faced. He would triumph over death. He was going to save the planet. So, what were the causes of Jesus’ weeping? Should we weep for what Jesus wept for? And what lessons can we draw from Christ’s sorrow?

Why Did Jesus Weep?

The story of Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus Christ and a brother of Martha and Mary, is told in John 11:1–45. When Jesus arrived and met with Lazarus’ sisters and other people to grieve his death, he wept (John 11:35). Jesus did not mourn over Lazarus’ death, as he knew he would be revived soon and spend his eternal life[1] with God in heaven, where there would be no pain anymore.

When faced with the crying and wailing of Martha, Mary, and the other people in mourning, he could not avoid weeping (John 11:33). Our Lord cried “silent tears” and felt sympathy for his friends, according to the original phrases in Romans 12:15.

Another instance is recorded in Luke 19:41–44, where the Lord makes his final trip to Jerusalem just before being crucified at the request of his very own people, those whom he came to redeem.

As Jesus reached Jerusalem, thinking of all those lost souls, “he wept as he saw the city” (Luke 19:41). Jesus wept openly in agony as he imagined the city’s fate. In AD 70, over a million citizens of Jerusalem perished in the midst of the most vicious sieges in historical records.

Reasons Why Jesus Wept

1. Jesus Wept Regarding His Impending Sacrifice

Jesus cried because Lazarus’ passing and rebirth mirrored his own. Jesus understood that he, too, would perish and be buried in just a few days. Jesus knew he would overcome death and be resurrected afterward, similar to raising Lazarus. However, he also realized it would be a long journey.

As Jesus approached his death, he prayed in Mark 14:36, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” He did not desire to perish on the cross, yet he did desire to glorify God. He had to suffer and bear the agony because of man’s sin. He had to cry so that we wouldn’t have to one day (Revelation 21:4).

2. Jesus Wept Over Their Lack Of Trust

The lack of confidence he witnessed around him was another reason Jesus wept. When Jesus originally told his disciples that he was returning to Judea, they warned him that he had been nearly stoned the previous time he was there.

Here, they were acting out of fear rather than trust. When they tried to persuade Jesus not to return to Judea, he replied: “Then Jesus spoke to them clearly and with conviction, ‘Lazarus has died. For your sake, I am glad I was not there, as you may believe. Let us go to him.’ So Thomas said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us go with him, so that we may die alongside him’” (John 11:14–16).

Jesus desired that his people would believe in him. They appeared to underestimate Jesus’ strength and power. This lack of trust caused Jesus to weep, since faith in him is what he genuinely desires from us. As Hebrews 11:6 reads, “It is impossible to please him without faith. Those who draw near to God must believe in his existence and that he rewards those who look for him.

3. Jesus Wept For His Friends’ Misery

He witnessed people’s suffering and the agony that death brings to the living. Jesus was genuinely concerned about his friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Although he already knew that this was happening to glorify the Father and that he would raise Lazarus in a few moments, why did Jesus weep? Because he understood their pain. Jesus felt sorry for their loss and suffering.

According to a Swedish saying, “Shared joy is double joy. Shared sorrow is half sorrow.” Christ wished to take away their grief, assuring us that regardless of what challenges or sufferings we endure in life, Jesus Christ is always with us. He is not hesitant to come with us in our sorrow and darkness. Jesus wept since those he genuinely loved wept.

jesus weeping looking down

Should We Weep For What Jesus Weep For?

We Must Weep For Our Sins

Recognizing some of the things that distress our God should cause us to weep and mourn over various concerns. We must, for instance, weep for our sins and show sorrow for violating an honorable and righteous God. Paul exemplified this kind of divine sadness when he wrote his missives.

When we grieve in humiliation over our sin, the Lord will not reject us, as the Psalms say, “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it. You do not delight in a burnt offering.” God’s sacrifices are a shattered spirit and a broken and contrite heart—”these, O God, You will not reject” (Psalm 51:16–17).

We Must Weep When We Give Into Our Fleshly Desire

As believers, we have to fight against our proclivity to tend to our own flesh rather than to the Holy Spirit (Galatians 6:7-9). We must be ready to hear the call to weep over sin in James 4:8–10.

He wrote: “Draw close to God, and He will come closer to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you hypocrites. Weep, cry, and lament! Allow your joy to turn to gloom and your laughter to grief. Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

We Must Weep For The Sins Of Mediocrity And Hypocrisy

God is against a lifestyle of hypocrisy, which combines God’s worship with fleshly conduct and spiritual worship. God desires that we serve him in spirit and truth—that we live holy lives (2 Corinthians 6:16–18). We must purify and cleanse ourselves daily by acknowledging our sins and asking for forgiveness (1 John 1:9; 2 Corinthians 7:1).

We must continuously avoid mediocrity. In God’s word, he warned weak Christians in the early church of Laodicea to “vomit them out” (Revelation 3:15–16). In accordance with this, there are times when we must persevere and demonstrate divine sorrow to promote repentance.

What Can We Learn From Christ’s Sorrow?

Jesus Christ’s sorrow taught us to empathize with others and not be indifferent to other people’s sufferings. Yes, stepping into the grief of others is messy. It’s challenging. It’s unsettling. It leaves us feeling helpless and unsure of what to do or say. As a result, we just avoid it. We confine ourselves to our own worries. It’s easy to ignore their concerns and simply walk away.

However, Jesus heard and stepped into your suffering and mess. He didn’t run away or wait for it to pass. No, Jesus came storming after you and stayed beside you in the middle of your ordeal. He wept alongside you. The time has come for us to do the same. It is now our turn to return the favor. To be the Lord’s feet and hands. Simply be there, because our presence can often mean far more than the words we speak.

It is considerably better to just cry with someone than to attempt to establish a satisfactory response to the burning question, “Why?” Just like what Jesus exactly did. He wept. Jesus didn’t inform them that Lazarus had reached heaven. He wept. He didn’t console them and tell them that heaven had gained a new angel. He wept.

Jesus also didn’t tell them that everything would make sense one day and that everything would be fine. Jesus became consumed by the intense emotion of that instant. He didn’t make an excuse for it; he lived through it.

jesus christ weeping with his hands together


We can hope and look ahead to an eternity where God will take away all our suffering and sorrow (Revelation 21:4). However, while we continue to live on earth, battling with challenges and sadness, we must set aside every weight as well as the wickedness that so effortlessly impacts us (Hebrews 12:1).

Let us walk in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus and weep rightfully over the matters that cause him to weep. May we vow to be penitent in our own transgressions (Isaiah 66:2; Psalm 51:17), and may we bear a burden for the lost souls.

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