Do you know the shortest verse in the Bible? It’s only two words: Jesus wept, but those two words have massive theological implications when we consider who is weeping. Jesus came to “explain” God to us, being God Himself but in the form of man. Every observable action, thought, and word gave humanity a glimpse of its Creator.
John 11:33,35 – When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled. … Jesus wept.
The context of this amazing revelation of God’s heart for us is the death of a very good friend. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived in Bethany, just a couple of miles outside of Jerusalem. They had come to know and believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the One sent from God as promised by the Old Testament scriptures. Lazarus had fallen ill, so the sisters sent word to Jesus, knowing He was fully able to restore Lazarus’ health. They had witnessed it many times, and I imagine they were a bit confused when He failed to appear, and Lazarus succumbed to death.
Jesus was not cold-hearted. He had not dismissed the pain He knew they felt from the death of their brother, nor was He unaware that doubts would creep in around the edges of their grief. But He was resolute in seeing this event through to its greater purpose – the glory of God, and the strengthening of His loved ones’ faith.
Four days after Lazarus is in the grave, word spreads that Jesus has entered the village. Mary waits in the house, but Martha runs to greet Him. Secure in His love, she questions His delay. He does not take offense; He knows her heart. He simply assures her of the resurrection to come and urges her to continue to believe.
Martha then sends Mary to meet Jesus. Mary’s feelings aren’t so buttoned up as her sister’s; she falls at His feet, clearly broken-hearted that her brother has died, and Jesus failed to come in time. It’s at this moment we get a glimpse of God’s heart. Knowing that in just a few moments He would restore Lazarus to them, Jesus could have simply patted Mary on the head and dismissed her emotional outburst. Instead, His heart is deeply touched. He felt her sorrow as His own, and He wept.
God is moved with compassion for the suffering of humanity. He sees, and He feels. He is not looking down on us in the mess this world has become since Adam brought sin into it with disdain. He sees what sin has wrought, and He weeps. Wars, violence, murder, loss, hunger, thirst, loneliness, disease, death…these are things that He never wanted for us, and when we are affected by them, He is filled with compassion. His heart is moved, and He is troubled.
Jesus illustrated the heart of God many times in the compassion He showed to those who followed along during the three years He walked among us. He felt compassion for the crowds, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd, distressed and dispirited (Matthew 9:36). He felt compassion for the crowds and healed their sick (Matthew 14:14). He felt compassion for the crowds because they were tired and hungry; He wanted to feed them (Matthew 15:32). He felt compassion for the leper; He touched him and healed him (Mark 1:41). He felt compassion for a widow weeping over the death of her only son; He raised the boy to life and gave him back to his mother (Luke 7:13).
Every rescue, every healing, every loving touch was illustrating God’s greatest act of compassion when Jesus would take the source of all our sorrows – the sins of the whole world – and nail them to the cross.
Are you hurting today? Is your heart broken? Are you suffering because we live in a fallen world? Is your heart overwhelmed by the anguish and misery that humankind is afflicting upon one another, even as we speak?
Take your sorrows to Jesus, the God of compassion. He weeps with you. Be patient. Trust that He is working for a greater purpose that will reap eternal benefits. Let the glory of God be seen, and may He strengthen your faith until it becomes sight once again.
James 5:11 – We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.