One of the shortest verses in Scripture is also one of the most poignant: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Jesus had been called to the home of His friends Mary and Martha with word that their brother, Lazarus, was ill. But seemingly without reason Jesus took His time traveling to their home in Bethany, and when He arrived four days later, Lazarus had died.
We are designed by God to grieve. And we know this because our Savior also grieved. Biblical scholars say that the act of weeping showed the humanity of Jesus, revealing His capacity to experience emotional pain. He was both God and human, and thus, like us, He felt the pain of separation and loss. Even earlier in the passage, in verse 33, Jesus was moved by the grief of others. Again in verse 38, it says that Jesus, “once more deeply moved,” approached the tomb where Lazarus had been buried.
But Jesus was also fully divine and thus He had power over death. He miraculously commanded Lazarus to rise from the dead, challenging Martha to believe. He did this act of triumph over physical death so that many could believe (v. 42).
While Jesus had the power over death and could raise Lazarus from the grave, He also knew what it meant to feel the pain of separation and grief. Jesus wept in sympathy and in loss (v. 35). He was “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isa. 53:3). We do not serve a God who does not understand our ability to grieve. But through His own death and resurrection, Jesus has conquered the grave and given us hope that extends beyond death. As Paul says in his letter to the Thessalonians, we do not “grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13).
We all eventually die. But, as believers, we are given hope. We do not grieve as those who do not know the Lord. Pray today for someone you know who is experiencing the pain of grief. Send them a note of love and encouragement. And, if you are sorrowful, know you serve a Savior who has experienced your pain.