I was reading the story of Lazarus and came across my favorite childhood Bible verse: "Jesus wept" (John 11:35). Just like thousands of other Sunday-school kids, it was my favorite because it was only two words—easy to memorize and quick points in any Bible memorization contest! I remember getting really irked at my friend Gina, who blurted it out before I had a chance to in a Bible drill. As a typical, lazy, Sunday-school kid (I went because my parents made me), I spent hardly any time on Scripture memorization and, sadly, even less time thinking about what the verses actually meant.
Why did he weep?
"Jesus wept" in the middle of the story of the death of Lazarus in John 11. Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, was a good friend of Jesus, whom he hung out with and shared meals. Jesus knew his friend Lazarus was sick and, before it even happened, Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die. He also knew what would come next: He would raise Lazarus from the dead. He told his disciples, "Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up" (verse 11). When Jesus saw Mary and Martha and went to Lazarus's tomb, we see the famous two words: Jesus wept.
When we lose somebody we love, we cry. We can't imagine life without them. We desperately want them back. We cry for our loss and our heartache and the loneliness that already engulfs us. But Jesus knew he would see and talk with Lazarus again. What's even more curious about this story is that Jesus could have prevented the whole thing. The sisters Mary and Martha both acknowledged this when they somewhat accusingly said, "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died" (verses 21, 32).1