Why Did Jesus Cry
Before Raising Lazarus?

Scripture: “When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”  (John 11:4-7).

One of the most fascinating Biblical stories is the raising of Lazarus as described in John 11.  Many of us learned this story as children in Sunday school.  It is an amazing story of how Jesus raised his friend from the dead.  It is yet another example of the divinity and love of Jesus.  In this story, Jesus cries.   Jesus is showing us all, and perhaps men in particular, that it is ok to cry.  Jesus was divine and also human.  In his human condition, he displayed all of the traits of a true masculine man, which includes weeping and showing empathy for your friends. 

Mary and Martha were sisters and friends of Jesus.  Their friendship is detailed in Luke 10.  The sisters and Lazarus were all from the same village of Bethany and were all friends of Jesus.  The sisters sent word to Jesus that Lazarus is sick.  “When He heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days, and then He said to His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” (Luke 10:4-7).

Jesus later reveals to His disciples that their friend Lazarus is dead.  “So then He told them plainly, “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.”   (Luke 10:14-15).  Jesus is indicating that He will use the death of his friend as an opportunity to display His divinity to His disciples. 

The chapter reaches its peak upon the arrival of Jesus.  “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.  Jesus wept.” (Luke 10:32-35).

As a youth, I was taught that Jesus cried because He was upset because the two sisters were crying over the death of their friend.  This is very likely and perhaps is the reason for His display of emotion.  However, I was talking with a friend a few years ago, and he indicated a different possible reason that Jesus cried.  My friend suggested Jesus knew of the beauty and peace of heaven.  Jesus also knew that in order to demonstrate His divinity to His disciples, He would   bring Lazarus back from the dead.  So, is it not logical that Jesus was saddened that His friend would be leaving paradise to return to earth?  The real reason that Jesus cried is unknown.  However, what is clearly known is that He did raise Lazarus from the dead and through the death and resurrection of Jesus we have forgiveness of our sins and shall be raised from our death and join Him in glory.

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for the gifts of compassion and empathy.  Help us to seek out opportunities to be a vessel of your peace and grace to others.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.