Biological research (Tornick, 1986) has shown that tears of emotion are chemically different from tears caused by intrusions into the eyes (e.g., onion fumes). The fact that crying can display such a wide array of feelings makes its centrality in the human experience non-debatable, adding to the zoological observation that no animals are known to cry (with the exception of crocodiles, who “cry” when they eat their prey).
John 11:35 – is the shortest but one of the deepest verses in the Bible. The Greek concept in Jesus’ day was that God has no emotions. But when Jesus wept introduces a whole new concept to Christianity – that God is an emotional God. He feels and He cares.
I) The Kind of Weeping that Jesus Did
a) A sign of intense personal sorrow - dakruo (δακρύω, 1145), “to shed tears” (dakruon, “a tear”), is used only of the Lord Jesus and nowhere else in the Bible.
b) An inner struggle because of the people’s unbelief – he burst into tears
c) The word troubled in John 5:7 (the water of the pool at Solomon’s porch being troubled as an angel stirs it up) is the same as what Jesus feels here in John 11:33 – this kind of emotion can quicken or stir up…
d) It is also the same in John 13:21 where he announces that “one among you is a traitor”… in short, Jesus was at an emotional breaking point. It is not anger, but anguish, the kind of anguish that Moses displayed when he broke the two tablets of the law and then climbed the mountain to intercede for his people, or that Jesus displayed when He cleansed the temple and then wept over the city. The difference between anger and anguish is a broken heart. It’s easy to get angry, especially at somebody else’s sins; but it’s not easy to look at sin, our own included, and weep over it.
II) Three Times that Jesus Wept in the Bible
a) Over an individual (Lazarus) – John 11:35
b) Over a nation (Jerusalem/Israel) – Luke 19:41
c) Over humanity as a whole (in the garden of Gethsemane) – Mark 14:33
III) Implications of Jesus Weeping
a) Being a friend of God is not an excuse to avoid suffering – but it means that God is with us in the midst of suffering.
b) God weeps with us even if He hasn’t answered our prayers yet… sometimes waiting goes hand in hand with weeping… God doesn’t wait in callousness.
c) It is a wonder… to think that nowhere was it stated that God wept for something or someone except for humanity…
d) We are lost from God by death… yet he’s VOICE (WORD) is ever close enough…
Tears: A Sign of Life - Crying is common in this world. It does little good to ask the reason for it. Earth is what one might call a weeping planet. Laughter can be heard here and there, but by and large, weeping predominates. With maturity the sound and reason for crying changes, but never does it stop. All infants do it everywhere—even in public. By adulthood most crying is done alone and in the dark. Weeping, for babies, is a sign of health and evidence that they are alive. Isn’t this a chilling omen?
Not laughter but tears are the life sign. It leaves weeping and being synonyms. God is life, therefore God weeps. You have life, therefore you weep. We have new life in Christ, therefore He weeps with us.
Benner, D. G., & Hill, P. C. (1999). Baker encyclopedia of psychology & counseling. Rev. ed. of: Baker encyclopedia of psychology. (2nd ed.). Baker reference library (301). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.
Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W. (1996). Vine's complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words (2:670). Nashville: T. Nelson.
10,000 sermon illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Dallas: Biblical Studies Press.