Have you ever wondered why Jesus cried?
The account of Jesus crying can be found in the 11th chapter of the Gospel of John and worth your time to read. I will summarize: Jesus had some dear friends named Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They were adult siblings who were very close to each other and to Jesus. (Yes, Jesus loves everyone but the gospel story makes it clear that these siblings had a special closeness and attachment to Jesus and he to them.) As it turns out Lazarus had been ill. Jesus had been petitioned by his friends to come to Lazarus quickly and possibly heal him. But Jesus did not come quickly. In fact, he seemed to take a leisurely pace to their home in Bethany. By the time Jesus reached Bethany, Lazarus had been dead 4 days. As Jesus neared the home he was accosted by the overwhelming grief and disappointment of Lazarus’ sisters.
Next comes the shortest sentence in the English translated Bible: “Jesus cried.” We don’t know for how long. The biblical text does not say. But stop and imagine that Jesus cried for ten minutes or longer. Stay with that image (Jesus crying) for a while before you move on to the climax of the story and take notice of your feelings and thoughts.
The Biblical writer was understandably excited to move on to the real action, the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus’ display of sadness gave way to an unearthly power that shook the grip of sin and death right out of the grave of immutable realities. A shouted command by Jesus was all it took for Lazarus to be resurrected from the dead. Lazarus was made alive. Stunned joy and amazement was not the reaction of all the bystanders, however. The narrative explains that some would believe in Jesus by this supernatural miracle but others in power would feel threatened. (The powerful can feel threatened by the more powerful. Our human history exposes us humans as naturally being guarded and fearful, predisposed to self-defense and self-interest. Embedded in empathy is vulnerability – the capacity and willingness to be hurt; a risk that the powerful generally don’t take.) Jesus’ display of power provoked by love would be costly to him. He would pay for it with his life as seeds of sedition began to take root around him as some would begin a plot to have him killed. The next chapters of this story would reveal a Jesus who would consciously constrain his power in favor of the ultimate sacrificial display of love, empathy and vulnerability.
But why did Jesus cry?
Read next week’s blog post.