Jesus’ Sovereignty Does Not Keep Him From Weeping With Us

September 25, 2012 by J. D. Greear

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In John 11 Jesus responded in two very different ways to two sisters, Mary and Martha, who asked him the exact same question. Their brother had died from sickness. Both said to Jesus, disappointedly, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” To Mary he gives a theological answer, but to Mary he shows the reaction of a friend. We need both responses when we’re disappointed with God.

Frankly, I have always thought Jesus’ tears (11:35) were a little odd. He knew that he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead and that in 10 minutes everything would be made right. Then why would Jesus weep with Mary? Why not just tell her to wait because everything would be okay in a few minutes?

Jesus weeps with Mary to give us a picture of how he goes through suffering with us. Even when Jesus knows the pain is temporary, he knows what it feels like for you, and he weeps with you. He weeps with you because he is your friend. That’s how I know a friend loves me. It’s not that they can give me all the answers when I’m in pain; it’s that they weep when I weep.

To a God outside of time, ten thousand years  is not that much different to Jesus than ten minutes. He can already see the beautiful end to each of our story. He can see all of our suffering swallowed up in the glorious resurrection. But when you are hurting, as much as you tell yourself that Jesus sees the beautiful end, it’s still painful right now. Sometimes you need not just theological answers; you need the presence of a Savior who feels your pain and weeps with you.

What a friend we have in Jesus! “He took our sin and our sorrow, and he made it his very own. He bore our burden to Calvary, and suffered and died alone.” He feels, as his own, your every broken-heart, every shattered dream, every sorrow. This does not mean that Jesus has no answers to the hard questions of suffering. It means that we can trust those questions to him.

There was another time in Jesus’ life that he wept, but nobody was there to weep with him. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would weep with such anguish that the capillaries in his face would burst. But no one would respond. The Father turned His face away. Jesus would ask his disciples to stay awake with him, but they would all fall asleep. He would die friendless and Godless.

But because of that, I know that he will never forsake me. He was forsaken so that I could never be. He died so that all that could have separated me from God would be removed. He died so that I would never have a season of suffering in which God would not weep with me in my pain.

Jesus cried alone and died alone so that when I cry and die I will never be.

5 Responses to “Jesus’ Sovereignty Does Not Keep Him From Weeping With Us”

  1. Stephen says:

    Is it clear that Jesus weeped with Mary, and not that he weeped for Mary? A few things happened in between Mary’s lament to Jesus and the text indicating Jesus wept: Jesus saw Mary crying, and he saw unbelieving Jews also crying with Mary, then Jesus was “deeply moved” (angry?) in spirit, then on Jesus’ request, the Jews brought Jesus to the dead body. Then Jesus weeps, and after the Jews make a remark about what they perceived as Jesus’ lack of power, Jesus was “deeply moved” again.

    I don’t disagree with you on the general point that Jesus empathizes and even fulfills our suffering, but isn’t Jesus’ interaction with Mary here more pertinently showing us how moved and saddened our Lord gets at our unbelief and lack of living out the implications of what He has accomplished? There was another time when Jesus wept, and that was upon his arrival to Jerusalem in Luke 19, knowing that the city would not believe in Jesus as her peace.

    I mean, Mary and Martha did ask Jesus exactly the same question, but they didn’t say exactly the same thing to Jesus – Martha added her further confidence in Jesus. John doesn’t completely spell out the mechanics of what’s going on in the rest of Martha’s conversation, but it seems that Jesus does not just give her a “theological answer,” but he reveals the comforting reality of who he is as the Sovereign Lord not just over mere sickness but over life and death. Martha responds with arguably the highest and most confident belief statement in all of John’s gospel.

  2. Michelle says:

    Do you mean to say, “To Martha he gave a theological answer”?

  3. Romelle says:

    To me it is not unlike a child who cries during his shots or a teen crying with a broken heart. We know as adults that these are small and temporary troubles, but we still hurt with our children. Imagine how much more Jesus, who was full of compassion, could hurt with us.

  4. earl says:

    So does Jesus weep today? I know He does not, though He can still empathize because He knew what it felt like.

  5. Jesus Sovereignty is the reason for His weeping at the tomb of Lazarus and over the city of Jerusalem. All of the doctrines of grace are invitations to being the spiritual pilgrimage. Calvinism is the theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and of the launching of the Great Century of Missions. It is coming back, because prayer has been going on for a Third Great Awakening for perhaps a century. In order to have an awakening, one must have the truth that sparks it.

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