Jesus Wept

John 11:25Text: John 11:35

This verse is the shortest verse in the English Bible, yet there is a lot to be learned from these two words. The context is about Jesus’ response to the death of Lazarus, a personal friend. Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but before that was an emotional scene (v. 32-34). What can we learn from this passage?

Jesus Displayed Emotion

  • Emotions are part of being human – we have them because we were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27); Jesus displayed emotion on other occasions (Matthew 20:34; John 2:13-16); God Himself displays emotion (Hebrews 3:7-11); so it is not surprising that either we or Jesus would do this
  • However, we must learn to control our emotions (1 Peter 5:8) – sorrow can turn into excessive sorrow (2 Corinthians 2:6-8); too much rejoicing can lead to one forgetting God (Ecclesiastes 7:2-3); we are to be angry, but not sin (Ephesians 4:26)
  • Jesus displayed emotion, but was not controlled by emotions – after He wept, He immediately did what He came to do; it is appropriate to display emotions; but they must be controlled and not hinder us from serving the Lord

God Allows Human Suffering

  • Word was sent to Jesus that Lazarus was sick (v. 1-3), not yet dead – Lazarus was described as “he whom You love” (v. 3); Jesus also loved Martha and Mary (v. 5); so His two-day delay in coming was not out of a lack of concern for any of them (v. 6)
  • Jesus had the power to heal Lazarus and end his suffering, even without being present – He had healed others (John 4:49-50; 5:5-9; 9:6-7); He would raise Lazarus from the dead
  • The Lord had a specific purpose for Lazarus’ suffering being handled this way (v. 4) – would be clear later
  • Why does human suffering exist? – it is a consequence for sin because we no longer have access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24); it is not the punishment for sin (John 9:1-3)
  • We should not act as if God is obligated to respond in some specific way to our suffering or the suffering of others – Jesus healed some, but not all; He raised Lazarus from the dead, but did not do this for everyone who died while He lived on the earth
  • So God allows human suffering, but NOT because He is uncaring (1 Peter 5:7) or uninterested in our problems (Philippians 4:6), NOT because He is unable to respond to our suffering (Luke 1:37), and NOT because the suffering is some punishment for sin (John 9:1-3)

Why Did Jesus Allow Lazarus to Suffer and Die?

  • People sometimes come up with fanciful speculations about why God allows certain things today – we can only know what God has told us (1 Corinthians 2:11); we do know why in this case (v. 4)
  • Jesus was to prove Himself to be “the resurrection and the life” (v. 25) – Jesus told Martha that Lazarus would rise again (v. 23-26); He needed to convince those who witnessed the event (v. 38-44); He needed to prove Himself to those who would hear of it (v. 46-48; cf. 20:29-31)


  • Jesus wept – He had compassion for others and empathized with them
  • At the same time, He has the power to end all suffering and death – He will not do that in this life; but He will do it in the next life (Revelation 21:4)
  • He is “the resurrection and the life” – no matter what suffering we endure in this life, we have hope in Him

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