John 11:28-36 “Jesus Wept”

Introduction: John 20:31 tells us the purpose of the Gospel of John.  That purpose is that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing we might have life through His name.  Martha expressed her faith in Jesus as the Christ the Son of God that should come into the world.  Jesus had asked Martha if she believed that He could give life.  She may not have understood what Jesus meant and may have been confused by His words but one thing she was certain of and that was that Jesus is the savior of men, the promised Messiah.  To be saved is to believe in Jesus.  He is the savior and will save all who repent of their sins and come to Him for salvation of their soul.  Do you believe in Jesus?


(John 11:28)  And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

            Martha leaves Jesus without understanding or accepting the comfort He has offered.  If she had listened carefully and believed what He had said the joy she will feel in less than an hour could have been hers at that moment.  If she has accepted the message brought to her two days earlier she could have had joy then and not have suffered such grief for the past two days.

            Martha went her way.  Her way is to go and bear the news to her sister that Jesus has come.  Martha had left the house immediately without saying a word to anyone.  No one followed her nor did they make assumptions about where she was going.  She returns to tell her sister that Jesus has come.  Notice that she tells her secretly.  It could be that the Jews who have come to comfort them might be such as would cause Jesus trouble.  As we shall see some of them run back to the Pharisees and to tell them what Jesus did. Perhaps Mary needs a few moments alone with Jesus away from this crowd of guests and so Martha seeks to let only Mary know so that she can go to Jesus alone. 

            The message that Martha delivers is this “The Master is come, and calleth for thee”.  The only one that Mary knows as Master is Jesus.  She does not respond to Martha by saying “Which Master.”  There is but one Master to Mary and that is Jesus. It is not recorded in the scriptures that Jesus specifically called for Mary.  I do not think that Martha made this up. I think that John has only recorded the gist of Martha’s conversation with Jesus.  Jesus wants to see Mary and has asked Martha to call her.

            Let us not leave this verse without drawing a lesson from it for use by us today. Jesus has come and is calling for you.  He calls you, who are sinners, to repent.  He calls the lost to be saved.  He calls the saved to serve.  He calls the mourners to comfort. He calls the weary to rest. He calls the prodigal home.  He is calling for thee my friend.  Do what Mary did, when called by the Master.


(John 11:29)  As soon as she heard [that], she arose quickly, and came unto him.

            Mary jumped up quickly and immediately as she hears that Jesus has come.  She runs to meet Jesus.  She knows that there is comfort there.  She knows that Jesus can handle every problem and can cure every pain.

(John 11:30)  Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

            Jesus had not come into town but was waiting outside of Bethany.  He knew of the crowd that was at Mary’s house and preferred not to meet with them there.  Jesus required, instead, that they come to Him. Jesus sent for Mary and waited where He was until she came. Jesus did not hide but waited in the very spot where Martha would tell Mary to find Him. 

            Let us learn a lesson from this verse also.  Jesus will not be found everywhere.  He is omnipresent but to find Him you must seek Him where and when He may be found. (Acts 17:24)  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25)  Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26)  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27)  That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

Jesus wants men to seek Him. He is not far away from any of us. To find Him you must turn from the way you are going and go toward Jesus. This turning is called repentance. Those who are willing to repent will find Jesus.


(John 11:31)  The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

            Martha has told Mary a secret which the Jews were not privileged to hear.  They think nothing about Martha whispering in Mary’s ear.  They do not seem to even wonder at what is being said. They don’t even seem to put the two events together.  They see Mary rise quickly and assume that she is overcome with grief and longing for her brother and wants to be close to his body.  Without an invitation they rise and follow that they might continue to offer what comfort they can at the grave side.

            It is good to comfort the grieving. Paul said concerning the good news of the coming resurrection that we should comfort one another with these words.  There is comfort that can be given to the bereaved loved one of a dead saint.  There is little comfort that can be given to the bereaved loved one of a dead lost soul.


(John 11:32)  Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

            Mary finds Jesus where He was and as soon as she laid eyes upon Him she fell down at His feet.  This position is one of worship.  It is a position of adoration and praise. It is a position of humility. It is the position all will take one day, even those who die in their sins will one day bow before Jesus. 

            Mary speaks the same words which were spoken by Martha. Mary knows that Jesus has the power to heal the sick. She knows that Jesus has the compassion to heal the sick.  She is convinced that Jesus would have done this for her brother had He only been there.  But Mary’s faith is weak. Should not she have known that Jesus knows all things and can heal from any distance?  Like Martha she did not believe the message Jesus had sent that this sickness was not unto death.  Had she believed she would have had such great comfort and even great joy knowing that all would be well and God would get the Glory.


(John 11:33)  When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

            Jesus could not help but to take notice of the weeping of Mary and the Jews which had followed her. Weeping is hard to ignore. Jesus groans in His spirit.  He was deeply touched by their grief. (Hebrews 4:15)  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.

Jesus created man.  He gave to man emotions. He gave to man the ability to love and be loved. He made us to have feelings both of joy and of sorrow. Jesus became a man and Isaiah described Him as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Jesus was deeply affected by the display of sorrow He saw before Him.

            Jesus was also troubled. He was troubled by their lack of faith. Jesus had said that this sickness was not unto death.  He had said that this sickness would result in glory to God and glorification of the Son of God.  He had told Martha that Lazarus would rise again.  He had told His disciples that He was going to awake Lazarus out of the sleep of death.  All of this seems to have fallen on deaf ears for Jesus has given them hope and they have rejected it soundly.

            It troubles Jesus when men refuse to believe.  It trouble Jesus when they mourn and weep and suffer worry and stress unnecessarily. It troubles Jesus to see the lost not believe and accept His free gift of salvation.


(John 11:34)  And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

            Jesus does not ask this question for information for He knows right well where Lazarus has been laid.  He asks this question for their sakes.  This gives them the opportunity to feel needed.  They have something constructive to do and they feel like they are being of help.  This tends to get their minds off of their sorrows.  Helping others takes our minds off of our own problems and makes good use of our energies.


(John 11:35)  Jesus wept.

            This is the shortest verse of the Bible.  Jesus will weep again according to (Luke 19:41)  And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,.”

Crying is a part of life.  Man is of few days and full of troubles.  Weeping is common to all men. Jesus showed His emotions on this occasion by weeping.  A friend of mine lost his wife due to a car accident.  At the funeral I wept. I wept because of the pain and sorrow my friend was having to bear. I hurt because he hurt. Our emotions are expressed physically through such things as tears and laughter. Jesus let those around Him know that He was grieved. Jesus wept.


(John 11:36)  Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

            The assumption that was made by the Jews was true.  Jesus did indeed love Lazarus. But His tears are not because Lazarus is dead.  Jesus well knows that Lazarus is in paradise.  Lazarus is experiencing greater joy than he has ever known. Lazarus is with his family who have gone on before him.  Lazarus is rejoicing with such great men of faith as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Lazarus is having a great time.  Jesus has saved his soul and made Him a joint heir. The tears of Jesus have nothing to do with Lazarus. 

            Jesus does not weep for Mary and Martha and the grieving friends of Lazarus for He is about to turn their sorrow into great and exceeding joy. He has told His disciples that He has come to wake Lazarus from the dead.  He does not grieve because of their grief and sorrow.

            Why then does Jesus weep?  He weeps because of the unbelief of this crowd.  In this crowd of people surrounding Jesus is His disciples who do not believe.  Jesus said in verse 15 that He was not there to the intent that they may believe.  His disciples faith is weak and He grieves for them. Weak faith causes undo worry and sorrow and fear.  Jesus grieves over His disciples lack of faith in Him.

            Jesus grieves because of the unbelief of His friends.  They believe He is the promised Messiah but they do not believe that He is God.  This lack of faith and understanding causes them unnecessary pain and suffering and Jesus has compassion for them and so He weeps.

            Jesus is grieved because there are lost people in this crowd who do not believe that Jesus can save their souls.  They think that their good works will save them and do not see that there is no hope for them except they repent and seek the mercy of God and His forgiveness.  Jesus weeps because they are lost.

            Jesus is grieved because He cares for these people.  God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.


Conclusion: Let us learn something from the example set by Jesus.  If Jesus is troubled by those who reject Him and by the lack of faith of not only the lost but also the saved should not we be as well.  It is often the case that when the Gospel message we preach is rejected that we summarily desert them and feel contempt for such stupidity. Should we not instead be troubled and moved with such compassion for lost souls that we seek help for them through prayer. The unbelieving are headed for Hell and we as God’s people and followers of our Master the Lord Jesus Christ should have and show our concern for their welfare.  Jesus wept for such as these and so should we.