Why does Jesus weep?

Is there bad news in Heaven?  Is there bad news in the Kingdom of Heaven?  Paul said that the Kingdom of Heaven is righteousness (the approval of God), peace (when all essential parts are joined together) and joy (be favorably disposed) in the Holy Spirit.  I don’t see any bad news in the list.  Walking in the Spirit is the same as walking in the Kingdom, right?  If I am in the presence of God, aren’t I in the King’s domain?  So if I am walking in the Spirit, upright and confident in my Abba Father, then there should be no bad news, right?  You may be in a bad circumstance.  You may have a loss with justifiable grieving.  But there shouldn’t be any “bad news” or “hopelessness” or “despair.”

“Yeah but…Jesus walked in the spirit and He cried when He heard bad news, didn’t He?  Wasn’t that despair?”

There are two significant accounts of Jesus weeping.  I contend His weeping was for them, specifically for their unbelief.  That has been God’s heart from the very beginning.  He grieves in our unbelief.  He mourns in our desire to find the answers elsewhere.  He is saddened when we take matters into our own hands instead of trusting Him.  Let me show you in these two stories.


You may remember the story when Jesus’ friend Lazarus dies.  He was Mary and Martha’s brother.  They were very close.  Martha was the “worker bee” in the family and Mary was the one who would rather spend time at Jesus feet instead of making sandwiches.  Martha would be the one that could argue the finer points of theology.  I would put her in the religious works camp.  Mary was more like David or Abraham.  She had a heart for Jesus.  She would put knowing Jesus above knowing about Jesus.  I would say she was very intimate with Jesus.  So Jesus comes to town, Lazarus is dead.  Martha meets Him and discusses the facts regarding who Jesus is and the concept of resurrection.  Martha hears Jesus say plainly the He is the resurrection and the life.  She doesn’t jump for joy.  She goes and gets Mary instead.  Then it is Mary’s turn.  With that background here is the passage:

John 11:32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” (ESV)

Why did Jesus cry?  The Jews said it was because He loved Lazarus.  I would agree that He loved Lazarus but Jesus wasn’t weeping in despair as a result of a desperate situation.  He had told His disciples earlier that Lazarus was sleeping and He needed to wake Him up.  No, I believe Jesus is weeping in response to their sorrow and unbelief.  God is with them, standing right there.  They have seen what He has done and can do.  They have confessed who He is.  Still they see only with their flesh eyes.  They can’t see past the circumstance.  They definitively point Jesus to the grave.  It is like they are saying “don’t you see Lazarus is dead?”  Jesus however, did see outside the circumstance.

I believe He is actually troubled by their unbelief.  Check this out:  When it says he was “moved in His spirit and greatly troubled” here are the Greek words:

Embrimaomai:  I snort (with the notion of coercion springing out of displeasure, anger, indignation, antagonism), express indignant displeasure with some one; I charge sternly

tarássō – properly, put in motion (to agitate back-and-forth, shake to-and-fro); (figuratively) to set in motion what needs to remain still (at ease); to “trouble” (“agitate”), causing inner perplexity (emotional agitation) from getting too stirred up inside (“upset”).

He knew Lazarus would be raised.  So what was He upset about?  It was Mary’s weeping.  It was the Jews sorrow.  It was their agreement with “bad news.”   Mary, the one who knew Him best, could not see what Jesus saw.  Her weeping in unbelief was His sorrow.  Her desperation was His exasperation.

Here is another occasion where Jesus wept:

Luke 19:37 As soon as He got to the bottom of the Mount of Olives, the crowds of His followers began to shout out with a loud outburst of ecstatic joy over all the mighty wonders of power they had witnessed ! 38 They shouted these words over and over: “Highest praises to God for the One who comes as King in the name of the Lord! Heaven’s peace and glory from the highest realm now comes to us!”  39 But there were Jewish religious leaders that stood off from the procession who objected, and said to Jesus, “Teacher, you must order your followers at once to stop saying these things!” 40 Jesus responded “Listen to Me, if My followers were silenced, the very stones would break forth with praises!” 41 When Jesus caught sight of the city, He burst into tears as He sobbed over Jerusalem, 42 saying, “If you could only recognize that this day peace is within your reach, but you cannot see it! 43 For the day is soon coming when your enemies will surround you, pressing you in on every side, and laying siege to you! 44 They will crush you to pieces and your children too! And when they leave, your city will be totally destroyed! Since you would not recognize God’s day of visitation, your day of devastation is coming!” (Passion Translation)

See it?  It should jump right out at you.  God was right there with them.  The prince of peace was in their midst.  They still couldn’t see.  They couldn’t get over their fallen-Adam lies.  They couldn’t empower the one with power.

Isn’t this our challenge today?  Do we believe in the goodness of God?  Do we believe that God is with us?  Do we walk upright in the Spirit knowing that we are His children?  If we are walking in the Spirit, how could there ever be bad news?  What could possibly happen in our circumstance that would disprove the truths about God?  Not matter how bad it gets, how desperate our situation, how intense the battle, how could we stop believing that Jesus is King?  We empower what we believe.  Jesus is King.  He weeps when we forget that truth.

Bad circumstances or bad situations or seemingly hopeless conditions are nothing more than an opportunity for God to do something amazing.  It is an opportunity for us to defeat the works of the devil.  It is an opportunity for the Holy Spirit in us to provide the impossible solution.  It is an opportunity for us to prevail against the gates of hell.  If the enemy is coming against you get ready for God to do something wonderful!

Yay God!


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