Why Did Jesus Weep?
I think everyone has heard of the shortest verse in scripture, "Jesus wept." There are many comments, even in scripture, like, "See how he loved him (referring to Lazarus, who had died)," but I have a different idea as I read the text. Read John 11:1-44 and consider with me. Jesus waited purposefully for Lazarus to be in the tomb several days, even though it is stated in verse 5 that he loved these three. Both women challenged him, with the same words, saying if he had been there, Lazarus wouldn't have died, showed their faith in his ability to heal. But Jesus gives this discourse about being the resurrection and the life, "Whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die - ever. Do you believe this?" (v. 25-26) When Jesus saw Mary, the sister who sat at his feet and listened when given the opportunity, the one who knew him well, and served him often, is crying as if it is just too late to do anything.
But the key word for me is 'angry' in verse 33 describing Jesus' reaction, not 'sad.' And it says it again in verse 38. I would like to suggest that he was angry and perhaps frustrated that they didn't believe! They still didn't understand his power, that He was the creator of the world, the one who sustains all life! He had challenged them with, "Didn't I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" And then the kicker. Why did Jesus pray aloud in verse 42? It says right in the text that it was "so they may believe you sent Me." And it was already stated in verse 15, Jesus did all this "so that you may believe." I think that Jesus was actually angry that they still were so slow to really believe the truth and act on it, even these two women who were so very close to him. If Jesus is angry over their unbelief, rather than just sad, it seems to change the meaning of the passage.
Looking at the word 'believe' in the New Testament will bring you to many passages reflecting the importance of this concept by Jesus, like with Thomas in John 20:27, "Don't be an unbeliever, but a believer," when Thomas stated that he wouldn't believe He had been resurrected unless he put his fingers into the wounds of Jesus. John follows this story in verse 31 by clearly stating why he wrote his gospel, "so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name."
I decided to look into the places in scripture when Jesus was angry, to see if there was any consistency into the idea that Jesus' main point was to want us to believe, and when we don't, to be disappointed and even angry at our hard hearts. In Mark 3:5, "After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts...." The reason Jesus seems to be angry here is stated, "because of the hardness of their hearts." Jesus said the same to the guys disputing as they walked to Emmaus. (see Luke 24:13-35) Jesus said, "How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken!" (v. 25) and He begins to explain how He is the fulfillment of the things in the scripture from Moses and the Prophets. Wouldn't that have been an interesting conversation!
It changes the way I feel about the times I struggle in my belief, like when I see injustice or the destitute in the world. Why isn't God intervening? But I have a check in my spirit. Am I not trusting God to handle things His way? Am I trying to run the show? If I am following the instructions of my Commander-in-Chief, that is Jesus, then I can trust Him to act appropriately, in His timing. I know that He can do anything, but often chooses to wait. Do we submit to Him? Do we believe in Him? Do we stumble and not really see the Light of the world? Are we slow to believe? Are we hardhearted? God is waiting to see our hearts soften to the creator of the world. To trust Him. To know Him. To tell others about Him. Do we? Do we really believe? Does it change us? Or is Jesus weeping over us?