Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her, also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit, and was troubled, and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus wept. And so the Jews were saying, "Behold how He loved him!" - John 11:32-36
Verse 35 of John chapter 11 is the shortest verse of the Bible, yet it shows God's deep love. When man decided to assign chapter and verse to Scripture these two words were left on their own, "Jesus wept."
When messengers originally came to Jesus to inform Him of just how sick Lazarus was, Jesus' response in word and action was anything but urgent. Christ said that the illness was not unto death and remained two more days where He was. Lazarus was Jesus' friend and the brother to the now famous sisters - Mary and Martha. And, he did die before Jesus came. You can understand Mary's words (possibly spoken somewhat critically in her grief) wishing that her Friend, who worked miracle after miracle, would have come sooner. But, instead of Jesus giving her a theological dissertation on God's sovereignty, He reacts...from deep inside...to her weeping.
The culture at that time saw people actually work as hired mourners. Either these people had a gift of sympathy or could turn it on as necessary (as seen when said mourners went from mourning to laughing at the assessment Jesus gave of Jairus' daughter in Mark 5:38-40). But maybe they were on to something back then. Weeping with those who weep provides some inexplicable comfort to those grieving. And there Jesus stood. He knew Lazarus would be alive again in moments. He had already said that this illness of Lazarus was not unto death. Yet, Jesus, not hired or conjuring up some sympathetic misty eyes, was DEEPLY moved in spirit and wept.
Jesus is the express image of the Father. His weeping means that God feels the same emotion. Crying must not equal doubt or spiritual immaturity. Jesus wept and was without sin. Paul said to the Thessalonian church, "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not mourn as others do who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13)." If it stopped at "that you may not mourn," we might feel as if we had to buck-up and put away the tissues. Yet, these instructions, interpreted with the knowledge that Jesus Himself wept, must be to mourn with hope. That is a different kind of mourning. We know, like Jesus knew, that there will be a resurrection. That does not hide the God-given, reactionary emotions that come with walking out the rest of this sin-filled, expiring world without the ones we love who went before us.
There will be a time when the mourning will stop and there will be no more crying (Revelation 21:4), though I struggle to see how we won't be crying tears of joy when we are with Him and all is renewed. In the meantime, Christ promised that those who mourn will be comforted (Matthew 5:4). We indeed have the Holy Spirit, who was sent as our Comforter (for times like these) and He's available, often through the hands of others, to wipe away the tears now. So be real. Remember that it is healthy to grieve. Mourn, but do so with hope and do so with others when you can. Matthew 18:20 says, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst." Jesus will meet you in your grief...and weep.
In memory of Kyle Knuth (1995-2016)