Jesus Wept and We Should Too: The Resurrection, Sovereignty and Grief

Jesus Wept and We Should Too: The Resurrection, Sovereignty and Grief

Why does the resurrection and the Word become flesh, grieve? Why as John reports was Jesus, “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled (11:38).” He was moved by love. Allowing the crowd to interpret Jesus’s action for us, John offers the following commentary on Jesus’s tears: “So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” Deep soul wrenching tears do not convey unbelief but love. To grieve is to express that goodness and sweetness has been lost.

Jesus wept. This short verse mercifully demonstrates that Jesus can and does as the Bible says elsewhere, “sympathize with our weakness (Heb 4:15).” In that weeping over the death of his friend Lazarus, Jesus legitimized the tears of every grieving husband, wife, child, mother, father, and friend. Jesus knew the soul penetrating pain of our grief.

Should We Grieve?

Though this moment in the biblical timeline grants us the permission to grieve and to grieve deeply, some within the church still find the topic of grief distasteful if not at points unspiritual. They fear that grief could be a denial of the resurrection or of God’s sovereign goodness. Since they know that their loved one is alive with Jesus and that no death is an accident, they view death to be little more than a brief interruption in their daily rhythm. They do not mourn when their husband takes his Sunday nap, why should they now mourn his death?

Such a perspective can be a good and helpful remedy against “excessive grief” or depression. But it cannot banish grief all together, for it was never meant to do so.

Does the Resurrection Banish Grief?

As Martha mourned the death of her brother Lazarus, she tells Jesus, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day (Jn 11:24).” And not only did she have faith in the resurrection, but she also knew the resurrection. Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Because Jesus was Immanuel, God with us – the sacrificial lamb who saves us from our sins through his death and resurrection, he can in good faith command: “Lazarus, come out.” John concludes the story with these words: “The man who had died came out, his hands and feed bound with the linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go (11:44).” Jesus did not simply believe in the resurrection. He was the resurrection, the very guarantee and cause of eternal life. In other words, he was the the solution to or the very antidote for death. And still, he wept.

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