|I would imagine if I asked the question “what is the shortest verse in the Bible?” many of you guys would immediately say “Jesus wept. ” Oh, you may not know that it is in the book of John (John 11: 35) but you know the verse. If I followed up with the question “why was Jesus weeping?” some of you would say it was because his very good friend Lazarus had just died. While that is partially true, there is a much more significant reason that Jesus was brought to tears. I want to share some thoughts with you regarding why He was weeping.
When Jesus first received word of Lazarus’ illness, He did not immediately go to Judea. He stayed where He was for two more days. Jesus told those with Him “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (John 11: 4) God was prepared to deal with the fact that people would be confused as to why Jesus did not immediately go to Lazarus’ aid and perform a miracle to make him well. There is no question that Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, so no doubt He was concerned and deeply troubled when He received word of Lazarus illness. When Jesus decides to return to Judea, He tells His followers “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (John 11: 11) The disciples did not understand that Jesus was referring to physical death when He said “fallen asleep” so He went on to say “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11: 14b-15) Again, God had a plan for demonstrating His ultimate power and authority over all things, even death. You would think that with all the disciples had experienced and seen in Jesus ministry they would readily grasp the fact that He could change circumstances. Whether it was facing the Jews that threatened to stone Jesus the last time He was in Judea (John 11: 8) or the death of Lazarus, Jesus can change circumstances. Oddly enough, the disciples just didn’t get it and in fact Thomas (called Didymus) said to his fellow disciples “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11: 16) In spite of what Jesus had said to them, the disciples apparently thought this was their last journey.
When Jesus is entering into the village, first Martha and then Mary express to Him “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” In addition, many Jews had come to comfort Martha and Mary and to mourn the loss of their brother Lazarus. Verse 33 tells us “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” (John 11: 33) This brings us to that very short but very significant verse “Jesus wept.” (John 11: 36) Once again we see people who claim to know and accept the identity of Jesus as the One and Only Son of God yet they just don’t get it. I believe this is the most important and significant reason that Jesus is crying! After all the teaching, preaching, counseling, mentoring, removing demons and healing the sick THEY JUST DON’T GET IT!
Before we are too quick to judge these people as complete idiots for not believing that Jesus could change the circumstances in this situation, I think we have to take a hard look at ourselves. Men, look around us. There are many of us who say we believe and trust in Jesus Christ yet we live our lives much like the people described in John 11. While it is true that we have not been afforded the opportunity to be physically present with Jesus during His ministry, we have been given the opportunity to learn of His ministry and all that occurred during His time on earth through God’s Word. We have been taught through a variety of resources on the power and authority of our Heavenly Father. Yet we are controlled by the circumstances of life rather than turning those circumstances over to Jesus and trusting Him to get us through those situations. For us guys, I think we often deny God the opportunity to change our circumstances because we refuse to let go of them and put them in God’s hands. You see, just as those in John 11 forgot, we forget “Who” is in control. Do you think our actions and reactions to life’s situations we must face give Jesus cause to be weeping today? Are you truly relying on Him in all circumstances and all situations? Jesus said to the people gathered “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11: 40) Do you believe? God desperately desires to show you His glory!
Some of you reading this may be like Lazarus. Oh, you aren’t physically dead but you are spiritually dead. Jesus is calling to you right now just as He called Lazarus from the tomb. You need to be freed from the grave clothes so that you can truly experience the life God desires for you. You need to come out of the darkness of the tomb of sin and have the stench washed away. Don’t miss the opportunity to receive life and to have it more abundantly through Jesus Christ. If you have never fully and completely turned your life over to Him, there is no better time than right now. Do you get it? In John 5: 24 Jesus says “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” Just as Jesus cried out “Lazarus, come forth,” He is calling your name and telling you to come forth right now.