The shortest verse in the Bible is found in the Gospel of John, chapter 11, verse 35. It simply says: “Jesus wept.” Jesus, who was fully God and fully man — shed tears of sorrow when he encountered those he knew and loved, grieving the loss of their friend and family member Lazarus. Verse 33 of John 11 captures the moment by saying “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.” Jesus goes on to ask where Lazarus is, and then when he went to see for himself, that is where we come to this response: HE WEPT.
Jesus knew in a few short minutes all this weeping would turn into astonished joy, and then tearful laughter, and then worship, as he would raise Lazarus from the dead.
So why did Jesus cry? Jesus had deep compassion for those grieving. Jesus is, as Colossians 1:15 says, “the image of the invisible God,” so from Jesus in this moment we get a clear picture of how the father feels over the pain and grief we experience in our daily lives.
This was a real glimpse into the compassion of Jesus in that moment, as well as the heaviness that was before him. We can take comfort in knowing Jesus faced grief and endured it. And, the word ‘endure’ has a interesting meaning. It can mean: to hold out against; to bear with patience; to tolerate; to admit of; allow; to continue to exist; to last. When we have to face grief in our lives, how do we face it and endure — to admit and continue to exist — in the midst of grief? We begin, by following the example of Jesus and we weep.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gave eight specific blessings in a teaching called the Sermon on the Mount and with one of these specific blessings, Jesus teaches us how to endure in grief. In Matthew 5:4, Jesus taught: “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” In the original Greek, the word “mourn” is pentheo from pénthos, which means: “mourning.” We endure in grief, by grieving.
Jesus is our example. By mourning, resurrection happened. New life started. Grief is a process. It isn’t a bridge to be built and to simply get over, but rather, in enduring through grief we can encounter new life and hope. Psalm 30:5 says “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” And, as we endure in our grieving, it produces hope, a hope that comes from the radical truth that Revelation 21:4 proclaims: “He (Jesus) will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” In his presence, we lack nothing. He’s our example. He’s our comforter. He’s our strength.
In the Matthew 5, Jesus was teaching about sin and walking in victory, teaching his disciples about an ongoing pattern for our lives. He taught our grieving brings us to God, but it shouldn’t stop after we find Him. This is the heart of the beatitude. Jesus’ true disciples never stop mourning over sin. This is how we endure in grief over our own mess — whether it’s sin or other pain.
In John 11, Jesus saw the pain of death, and saw those around Him hurting and He wept. He entered into the moment with great compassion and presented us with a model of how to endure in grief, tragedy and pain. Accept it. Embrace it. Let the Holy Spirit of God bring you comfort first. Not others. Not food, drugs, or sex. But, God your Heavenly Father. For the ones who are mourning over their grief and pain and shame, those are the ones who will be truly comforted.
Within our community there are many churches and even some specific ministries that can help us face our pain and endure in grief together. Turn to Jesus first. Weep. But also reach out to those within your life. Search for “GriefShare, Carson” online to find one of those special groups. Don’t proceed without weeping, without embracing your pain. Years will be lost and the damage of it all could be greater than the initial loss. Turn to Jesus. Let him comfort you. And, seek others to encourage you as you look to God for your healing and hope.
Nick Emery is Hope Crossing Community Church pastor