Why DID Jesus Cry?

Read it! John 11

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.


Think it through

At least that’s the version I’ve always read. As an old-school NIV girl, I’ve read over and over that Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” and assumed it meant he was incredibly sad, grieved. The NKJV reads similarly: “…he groaned in the spirit and was troubled.”

But I was surprised to find that two of the other versions in my side-by-side Bible (the NLT and The Message) used different words: “a deep anger welled up within him.” Both versions describe him as angry when he arrived at Lazarus’s tomb, as well.


No matter what version you read, the story is the same. Miles away from Judea, Jesus knew that Lazarus had died. He traveled to Lazarus’s house despite an apparent risk to his safety. He arrived too late and was greeted by Martha, and then Mary. He cried.

I’ve always taken the verse 35, “Jesus wept,” to heart. My perspective has basically been: Look, Jesus cried about this even though he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. It’s OK to be sad, OK to cry, even when you know God’s got everything under control. 

I still think this is a valid way to apply this scripture. The Jews wouldn’t have said, “See how he loved him!” if Jesus’ love for Lazarus wasn’t evident in his tears.

But now that I’ve seen another scriptural perspective, I can also see anger and frustration in those tears. Maybe anger with the fact that death exists, that the perfect world he and the Father spoke into being had fallen so very far. This isn’t the way He meant it to be. He belonged in a better place.

So now I have a new perspective: Perhaps Jesus was angry and frustrated here. And that’s OK for us, too.


Live it like you mean it

Do you ever feel, as I do, that Christians are supposed to be all sunshine and rainbows so the world can see how happy we are? That we shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel disappointed or sad or frustrated or angry in light of the our blessings? Christ has paid such a price for us, we shouldn’t even have those feelings… right?

My husband gets a little annoyed with my glass-half-full attitude sometimes, and honestly I would too if I was him. In Disney’s Inside Out, “Joy” was my favorite character by far! I tend to skip straight over the negative to get to the positive. I know that Susie Sunshine isn’t always necessary or realistic, but I do this anyway.

Even as Christians, or maybe especially as Christians, it’s OK to admit that we’re sad, we’re angry, we’re unhappy in this fallen world. This isn’t the way God meant it to be. We belong in a better place.

This week, my challenge for you (and for me!) is to talk to God about those negative feelings instead of squelching them. To trust our Jesus with them, because he’s been here… and we’re headed his way.


Lift it up

Jesus, I’m sorry for the times I’ve tried to gloss over my negative feelings and handle them myself. I want to trust You with all of my sadness, and anger, and frustration. You can handle it, I know, and feeling those ways in bad times doesn’t make me any less thankful. Lord, I love You with all of my heart, even when it gets dark in there. You are more that worthy to hold all of it. Amen.


Tell Me About It

Am I crazy, or do you ever feel this way, too?

Join the Conversation on Facebook!

Thank You for Supporting Our Ministry!