Why Did Jesus Weep? Get The Facts!

By Charalampos •  Updated: 09/01/22 •  9 min read

For most of us, it is easy to memorize the shortest verse in the Bible “Jesus wept” but have we ever considered the reasons behind Jesus’s tears? It is easy to assume that Jesus was God in flesh and as such should know the reason behind every physical manifestation of events.

If you think of it, you might ask the same question many people ask; isn’t He the savior of the world? Hasn’t He the power to overcome all evil forces? So, why should He weep? 

There are many mysteries in this simple and easy-to-memorize Bible verse.

The event that led to Jesus’s weeping was the death of Lazarus, according to John 11: 35. After Jesus’s conversation with Mary and Martha, and seeing some aggrieved mourners, it would be easy to assume that performing a miracle and raising Lazarus from death should not cause Jesus to weep. What then caused it? 

The first thing you should note is that Jesus was close to Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus. Also, it is good to remember that Mary formerly anointed Jesus (John 11: 2), and Jesus had also been in Martha’s residence (Luke 10:38-42) prior to Lazarus’ death.

Mary and Martha already knew that Jesus could perform miracles because they have seen Him do it before; this was why Martha confidently said “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11: 21). 

Why did Jesus Weep?

Why Did Jesus Weep

Was Jesus’s tears about Lazarus alone, Mary and Martha, or some other things that happened during the whole event?

1. He Knows About Our Infirmities

One of the foremost reasons why Jesus wept was because He could feel infirmities. While on earth, He was human. Hebrews 4: 15 also reminded us of it that He is a high priest who can be touched by the feelings of our infirmities.

This has been the reason why Jesus had compassion on the multitude He fed with loaves of bread and fishes, it was the reason He healed the leper, and it was the reason He gave sight to blind Bartimaeus. And of course, it was the main reason He had to raise Lazarus from death. 

If he had done all these, he must have imagined what it feels like to be in the position of those He healed. He might have looked around and wondered what the people are going through, and He might have felt a greater grievance, not only for Lazarus but also for the people around him. 

2. He Loves Us

Because He genuinely cares about Lazarus, he definitely felt his pain and the agony of his death. Hence, Jesus weeps signifies His love for Lazarus and mankind. This shows that He will always be pained whenever we pass through terrible situations.

However, you should know that because Jesus was grieved does not mean that He delights in affliction. But His compassionate heart grant goodness and mercy to all who are willing to come to Him. He grieved Lazarus’ affliction by weeping, this was the only way He could show love to a bosom friend. 

Lazarus was close to him. Lazarus had a steady relationship with our Lord. In fact, the person sent to tell Jesus about Lazarus’s illness had said “Master, the one you love is ill.” If humans can be moved with empathy and compassion for someone close; then Jesus, who had assumed the human form is also able to feel the same.

3. Lack of faith

Another contributing factor to Jesus’s tears is because of the lack of faith of the people around them.

Although Mary and Martha knew that Jesus could raise Lazarus from death, they were not yet convinced, this may be due to the fact that Lazarus had died four days ago.

Martha’s statement in the Gospel of “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11: 21) was a mixture of hope (that their brother still has a chance) and fear (that will Lazarus be raised) while she was mourning. 

Martha’s statement is saliently saying “Jesus, I think it is too late, you could have done something if you had come earlier. I don’t think you can do anything now that he’s dead.” When Jesus talked about the present circumstances of raising Lazarus, Martha was thinking of the last day of resurrection. 

Jesus had said “Your brother will rise again” but Martha’s reply was “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

However, Jesus made her realize that He was talking about raising Lazarus presently. But still, Mary, Martha, and all people around would have been lost in the thought that Jesus came late and by this time, Lazarus’s body would have been decaying and smelling. They had all those though to battle with, hence, their fear and unbelieving attitude.

Although they have seen Jesus performs several miracles but they have not seen Him raise a man who had been four days dead, hence, their fear. However, this simple lack of faith grieved Him so much. How could they have walked with Him and never known what He can or cannot do?  

It is sorrowful to have all you needed standing in your front and still miss the point. All they could have ever needed (Jesus) was in their front but they didn’t get it. All Jesus could have ever wanted was their faith but He got fear instead. What could have grieved the savior more than fear? 

4. The Tragedy of Sin and Death

Jesus wept verse

Jesus’s tears show that He knows the tragedy of death. He understands what all humans undergo since the time sin entered the world through the first Adam. He knew like the Bible said, that the wages of sin are death.

He understands that He has come into the world to help men overcome sin and death. He knew that He must also pass through the same thing if He would overcome death. 

During this moment, He might have grieved for Lazarus while also grieving for Himself because of the death He must die on the cross of Calvary. The tragedy of death that is about to befall Him must have aggravated His affliction, hence the tears.

No wonder He would later pray to God to “let this cup pass over.” Jesus was aware that from creation, mankind has been in a web of sin and death; the same web had befallen His beloved friend—Lazarus.

He knew that what Lazarus was passing through in death was not easy. He would have foreseen how His own death would be. He definitely wished it would pass but He knew He must pass through the same affliction Lazarus passed through in the grave if mankind will experience ultimate salvation.

He was more aggrieved because He must by all cost redeem man from the snares of sin and death. He must do this also because he knows about our feebleness and infirmities; He must purchase our redemption through His sacrificial blood. 

5. The Foundation of His Death, and The Cost of Salvation

Another reason why Jesus cried was that He knew that raising Lazarus from death will ultimately fast-track the event of death that is about to happen to Him.

The Jews were already plotting to kill Him, but Jesus knew that this might be the catalyst they need to carry out their preconceived notion. They had done it in the past but Jesus knew that His time had not yet come. 

Seeing Lazarus in this distasteful condition and raising Him up means that there will be more uproar in town and those against Him will definitely find a way to achieve their desires.

This was exactly what happened (John 11: 45-53). Therefore Lazarus’ death (or rather Jesus’s miracle for Lazarus) paved way for Jesus’s death.

Jesus, who had not known sin, must have gotten a glimpse of it through Lazarus’s death. Even though it is easy to assume that He would eventually be set at the right hand of God, it is likewise uneasy for the righteous Son to pass through the same sinful death that all men must pass through.

He must have also grieved because of what He would experience in His forthcoming death while comparing it with that of His beloved Lazarus.

How Many Times Did Jesus Weep in The Bible?

times that jesus cried in the bible

Jesus Christ wept three times in the Bible. All three of these events can be found across the gospel.

The first instance where we see Jesus weep is at the death of Lazarus. Jesus had arrived too late to save his friend’s life and was deeply moved by the event. As we already know, Jesus weep because of the sin and death that had entered the world.

The second verse where we see Jesus weep is during his prayers. He is recorded to have prayed with “tears in his eyes” to God. This was most likely due to the knowledge of the great sacrifice he was about to make.

The third and final time we see Jesus weep is when he enters Jerusalem. He saw the city and wept over it because he knew the great destruction that was to come. He wept because he loved the people of Jerusalem and did not want to see them suffer.

Final Thoughts

Jesus is really interested in the affairs of man and He can always be touched by the feelings of our infirmities, if not He would not have been willing to heal the sick, make the lame walk or open the eyes of the blind.

He knows what it takes to be in such a condition, and He alone knows what it takes to free such people. 

Because He knows human feelings, He is able to empathize and be compassionate. Jesus’s tears about Lazarus’s death were a major way of empathizing with human feelings.

Besides, His love towards all man aggravates His compassionate tears, while at the same time He wished that we know how much He loved us so that we can believe/have faith in Him alone.

He is always grieved at any slightest fear we harbor and He knew the cost of what He must pass through to bring us eternal salvation.

Therefore, Jesus’s tear because of Lazarus’s death was a result of His overwhelming love for humanity.

Charalampos

Charalampos is an Orthodox Christian who wants to help others learn about Christianity. His main goal is to help people understand the Bible and how to apply its teachings in their everyday lives. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and hiking.

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