The Message in Jesus’ Tears

“Jesus wept.”
~John 11:35 (NIV)

One of my co-workers lost her mother very unexpectedly last week. She is going through all of the usual emotions that accompany such an event and my heart really goes out to her. My own mother passed away nine months ago, so all of those feelings are still very real to me.

My co-worker, who, out of respect for her privacy, I will not name, is a very kind-hearted woman. She is raising two young daughters on her own and is a great mother. Her plate is full, yet I never hear her complain. I have raised Eric on my own for a portion of his life, so I have a great deal of respect for any single mom, especially one like my co-worker who makes it seem effortless.

I know that through the years I, personally, have felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. As a single mother, I felt that I had to always be strong for Eric. Even with my parents and my siblings, I have often felt like I was the one who needed to be the “rock.”

The most traumatic week of my life happened in October of 1995. During those few days, my marriage to Eric’s father reached a breaking point and my brother, George, died unexpectedly at the age of 43. My parents had lost a son and my son had lost a parent. The irony of it did not go unnoticed.


My dad with my brother, George, back “in the day”

Looking back, I don’t know how I got through it. I had religion in my life, but my relationship with God was not nearly as strong as it is today. I was a mess, but yet, couldn’t stay a mess, because I needed to be the “rock” for my parents and for Eric. In hindsight, no one expected that of me, but me. It was alot of self-inflicted pressure that I placed upon myself.

In talking to my co-worker these past few days, it became very clear to me that she, too, is the “rock” in the lives of her daughters. I’m sure this role applies to many people; male or female, single or married, with or without children. We feel guilty if we are anything less than “superhero” strong.

While sharing, some of my own experiences with her this week, my mind was continually drawn to the shortest verse in the Bible. John 11:35. Jesus wept. Reflect on that for a moment and let it really sink in. Jesus, Son of God, Creator of the Universe… wept.

I don’t claim to know what, specifically, caused Jesus to weep. My initial reaction is that He cried tears of sadness over the death of his friend, Lazarus. Putting that into perspective of the “big picture,” however; I don’t think that was it because Jesus knew exactly how it was all going to turn out. He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and there was going to be a happy ending.

My second thought is that He was troubled by the disbelief of those around Him, so much so, that it brought Him to tears. Either of these may or may not be the source of Jesus’ tears, but regardless of the reason, it does not change the fact that Jesus openly wept.

In the book of Genesis, we learn that God created the world in six days and on the seventh day He rested. God did not need to rest. He’s God. I believe that He rested to show humanity, His creation, that it’s not only necessary, but also that it’s okay, to rest. By God resting, we see that rest is not laziness or wasted time, but rather something that we need to refresh our body and mind. In today’s busy world, getting by on only a few hours of sleep is not only looked upon as the norm, but it’s practically elevated to heroic status. God is telling us, through His example, that this is not His way.

In that same mindset, I believe that Jesus openly wept to show humanity that it’s necessary and okay to cry. In Jesus’ tears, we are shown that it’s “okay” to “not be okay” sometimes, and that feeling and expressing our sadness is not a sign of weakness. God is showing us that it’s acceptable and necessary to take a break from being the “rock.”

We may never know the exact reason that Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb, but for me, today, it takes so much pressure off, just knowing that He did.


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