Within this tiny text is one of the greatest revelations of God’s character in all of scriptures. At face value this text is simple enough to be held and enjoyed by the lowest class of society and yet in God’s wisdom it seems to be forever beyond the reach of some intellectual elites.
I believe “Jesus wept” to be a monument standing tall in the Gospel of John. Like many of the monuments we have today, this text is meant to convey a very powerful truth as simply as possible.
And like any structure there is required an assembly of a great number of materials. Be it stone or clay it must be cut or warped and put into it’s proper order before the finished product is to have it’s effect. Looking to what God has revealed about himself elsewhere in scripture, we will find the materials that fill in and flesh out and build up this majestic display of God’s person. Even with a thousand years to do so, it would be impossible for me present a summation of God’s being. So, I will simply state a few basic but beautiful materials found in this scripture that will serve to highlight John 11:35. My hope is in the future when a moment, however light or unbearable, presents itself and you’re left only being able to recall to mind, “Jesus wept”, that it would bring with it some sweet feelings once felt while exploring the finer details of what is contained within the statement.
The glory of God is the primary purpose of all things.
Is this not made abundantly clear by John 11:4? Go look at it. It could not be more plain. This is the first and most important reason for the all that God does. Every material that goes into constructing the monumental display of John 11:35, including all the time and energy, are each to this end. This drives him. This is why he created. This is why he allowed the fall. This is why Lazarus was to die and Mary ordained to mourn bitterly for days. This is why Jesus came to accomplish his work.
God’s love for man is immeasurable.
Why? That would be borderline blasphemy to some reformed folk, but of course there are caveats to be made with almost any statement regarding God. The tears of Jesus have been theorized to display a myriad of mindsets of Jesus by just as many theologians. I think the principle of plain reading is an excellent principle. The scripture is meant for the plain. And what is more obvious than Jesus appearing among his loved friends and mourning with those who mourn? If you consider this obvious, congratulations, you are wiser than many PhD’s. While we historically understand the orthodox position that Jesus is mysteriously fully man and fully God, when it comes to any display of emotional variation we appeal to the fully God part of our Lord to effectively negate his humanity. Jesus knew in eternity past that Lazarus would perish this day. And yet he was to mourn his passing as if he was non the wiser to its imminence. This is not because he is fully man, but because he is fully man AND fully God. It is both the man Jesus who felt the hormonal responses associated with empathy and wept bitterly with his friends, and the eternal God who was passionately moved at the suffering of his children, the pain of their rebellion, and the punishment that would be necessary only days later to atone for those very things.
When Jesus wept, he wept because he loves the Glory of God. He wept because he loves his children passionately. He wept because he was fully man, fully god and fully moved. He wept because he abhors evil and the price it demands for atonement is severe. He wept for the coming wrath of the cross where he would pay a price to God the Father for all that Lazarus, Mary, Peter, and all the rest have done every day of our life.
In other words, Jesus wept for you.