Bible Answers: Why Jesus wept for Lazarus

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“The Bible says Jesus cried when His friend Lazarus died. Why did He weep — didn’t He know He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead?” — Kathy

This story is found only in John’s Gospel (chapter 11), one of several powerful moments in the life of Jesus that are not recorded in the earlier gospels. John, most likely writing many years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, appears to have the aim of clearly portraying both Jesus’ humanity and divinity — an issue that was increasingly debated at the end of the first century and beyond.
This account of Jesus’ weeping is a poignant illustration of His humanity. He had just lost a good friend to “the last enemy” (I Cor. 15:26). Though He likely anticipated raising Lazarus from the outset, He nevertheless was keenly aware that His friend had had to suffer the agony of death.
Also, Jesus was obviously deeply disturbed by the grief Lazarus’ sisters, also close friends of His, were experiencing. He knew of their disappointment at His not coming quickly.
Mary and Martha were certainly under the impression that Jesus could have prevented the death (11:21, 32). They trusted Him and were hurt by His inexplicable delay in coming. Their hurt went to His heart.
What truly “broke His heart” (11:33), however, was that these people He so deeply cherished grieved without hope.
Their sense of loss and the finality of death were unbearable in spite of the fact that they “believed” that He was the promised Messiah (11:27).
Jesus prayed that this moment would provide a dramatic demonstration of His divine nature and power (11:15, 42).
He knew that death is not the end — His hope was that those who witnessed this moment would come to see that He was indeed the “resurrection and the life” (11:25-26).