Jesus Wept: The Human Emotions of Jesus

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This post is a bit of an expository teaching on the humanity of Jesus in His emotions that is displayed in the account of the death and resurrection of Lazarus.

I think one of the most powerful verses in the Bible is the succinct, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Its brevity doesn’t limit its impact or meaning. Jesus understood — even prophesied — that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, so why would He ‘groan in the spirit and [be] troubled,’ even weep when He heard about Lazarus’ death?

Lazarus has just died and his family and friends are devastated. We find Jesus responding differently to the grieving of Lazarus’ two sisters, Martha and Mary. 

We know Martha and Mary from another popular scripture in John 10 where Mary chooses to sit at Jesus’ feet and anoint Him while Martha is busy preparing food. I think it’s a common misconception to perceive Mary as ‘good’ and Martha as ‘bad.’ But in John it says that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. I think this was a special friendship.

Martha’s Response

Martha and Jesus were friends. So it may seem odd that when Martha ran to Jesus and said about Lazarus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died,” Jesus simply stated that Lazarus would rise again. He also took the moment to tell Martha more about who He is as ’the resurrection and the life.’ 

Could it be that Jesus was showing Martha something she didn’t know about Him? He asked her “Do you believe this?” Was that to grow faith in Martha that He can raise Lazarus from the dead, or was it simply to tell her who He is?

Mary’s Response

Next, Mary ran to Jesus with the exact same words as Martha, but Jesus reacts completely different to Mary. It says that Mary fell as Jesus’ feet, weeping. When Jesus saw Mary and the Jews that came with her weeping, He was saddened, troubled, and even moved to weeping. 

Jesus’ Humanity

In this account, we get a vastly intimate look into the humanity and emotions of Jesus. His love for these siblings, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, clearly demonstrates His closeness with our humanity, and quells the thoughts that He is stoic or detached from us. 

There are numerous times in the Gospels where it says that Jesus was moved with compassion. Love and compassion welled up inside of Him for humanity because we are “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). 

Here are some verses to think about today that highlight the humanity and closeness of Jesus:

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14–15)

"Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matt. 9:35–36)

Check out desiringgod.org’s great article with more verses on Jesus’ humanity »


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