THE TEARS OF JESUS
John 11:35; Heb. 5:7; Luke 19:41
By David J. Riggs
A. There are three occasions in the N.T. where it is stated that
Jesus shed tears.
B. All three occasions have their own deep significance.
1. They prove that Jesus was a "man of sorrows and acquainted
with grief" as was foretold by the prophets (Isa. 53:3).
2. They prove the humanity of Jesus. As well as being God, He
was a human being like you and I. He shed tears, as all
humans do from time to time.
C. People who weep do not generally have much of a following.
1. People are looking for laughter and lightheartedness
instead. An old poem says, "Laugh and the whole world laughs
with you. Weep and you weep alone."
I. JESUS WEEPS AT THE GRAVE OF LAZARUS - "TEARS OF SYMPATHY." (John
A. The tears of Jesus on this occasion, as we already said, prove
the humanity of Jesus.
B. You wouldn't think that man would have problems regarding this,
but they have.
1. Gnosticism - "All flesh is evil; therefore, Jesus did not
come in the flesh. (2 John 7)
2. The book of John, which main theme is the Deity of Jesus,
also shows that He was very much a human being like you
a. John 4:6-7; 11:33,35; 19:28 - Thus, he was subject to
weariness, pain, misery death, etc., as all humans are.
b. John 1:14 - "The word "flesh" has various meanings in
the N.T., but here it has reference to human nature.
(1) John shows that the divine and human nature of
Christ became fully united.
(2) The relation of the two natures to one another will
forever remain a mystery, far above our
comprehension, but a better explanation cannot be
found than in the Council of Chaledon: "We, then,
following the holy Fathers, all with one consent,
teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord
Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also
perfect in manhood...to be acknowledged in two
natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly,
inseparably...the distinction of natures being by no
means taken away by the union, but rather the
property of each nature being preserved, and
concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not
parted or divided into two persons, but one and the
same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord
Jesus Christ..." (N.T. Commentary on John, by William
Hendriksen, p. 84)
3. Not only does the expression, "Jesus wept" show that He
was a human being, but it shows that He was a person of
tenderness and compassion.
a. Example: It shows His love for Lazarus, Martha and
Mary. (John 11:5,36)
b. More importantly, it shows that He will likewise have
sympathy for us. (Heb. 4:15-16)
c. He came to bind up the broken hearted. (Luke 4:18-19).
d. He invites all to come to Him for consolation and rest.
(Matt. 11:28-30; Rev. 3:20)
C. We need to be more and more like Jesus. (1 Peter 2:21)
1. We need to sympathize with those in trouble. (Rom. 12:15; 1
2. Jesus did more than weep and we ought to do what we can
to dry the tears of others (1 John 3:17)
II. JESUS WEEPS AT THE PROSPECT OF HIS OWN DEATH - "TEARS OF
ANGUISH." (Heb. 5:5-9)
A. Without doubt, this has reference to the events in the garden
1. Matthew's account - Matt. 26:36-45
2. Luke describes more fully the agony of that occasion. (Luke
3. The Hebrew writer adds the matter of tears. (Heb. 5:7)
B. Some have trouble understanding this behavior of Jesus. In
other words, "Why would He shed tears at all if He were God, a
1. We must not forget that Jesus was fully human as well as
2. As a man, facing the cross would give the hardest mental
anguish that any human being had ever known.
3. His willingness to redeem fallen man, and His unfailing
determination to do the will of the Father, led Him to
calmly drink the bitter cup of the cross.
4. Also, as a divine person, He knew of the glory that was
beyond the cross. (Heb. 12:2)
C. Thus, a weeping Jesus, learned obedience by the things which he
suffered and became the author of eternal salvation of all who
1. His tears could not substitute for His own obedience. Even
the tears of His own Son, did not cause God to change His
2. Our tears cannot substitute for our obedience (Matt. 7:21; 2
3. Jesus' tears show that the pathway of obedience is not
4. Also, the example of Jesus gives us strength. We need to
look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. (Heb.
III. JESUS WEEPS OVER JERUSALEM - "TEARS OF SORROW REGARDING OTHERS."
A. As the city lies before Him, stretched out before His view, the
Master's prophetic eye beholds a sharp contrast: on the one
hand a beautiful city and on the other a smoldering, hideous
ruin, thousands upon thousands of the city's inhabitants doomed
1. Bursting into tears Jesus laments vs. 42.
2. But, up to now the opposite course had been followed.
Instead of penitence there had been hardening; instead of
a. Certainly, it was not due to His lack of concern for
them. (Matt. 23:37)
b. They did not recognize the season when God in His
grace visited them.
c. As always, when sinners harden themselves, God, in
turn, will pour out His wrath upon them.
(1) An embankment - To go over the wall.
(2) Surround you and close you in on every side - This
left no room for any to escape. Many of those who
tried to flee were killed.
(3) Annihilation of population - A horrible blood-bath.
(4) Not one stone upon another - Complete demolition
of the city. (See Josephus, History of Jewish War,
Book VI, p. 271; Book VII, p. 1-3).
B. Surely, if the Lord were here today, instead of rejoicing, He
would be weeping about the condition of the people.
1. Even the door of grace is not entirely closed, but He,
through the eye of prophecy, could see it rapidly closing.
a. Many today are not interested in saving their souls.
b. They are not interested in coming to the Lord. They
could, but they will not.
c. Surely the Lord would be grieved over the indifference
He sees in the church.
(1) There is indifference toward His authority. There is
much division in the brotherhood which has crippled
us as a strong force in converting
demoninationalists. (Eph. 4:3).
(2) There is indifference toward His worship. There is
much formality. (Matt. 15:8)
(3) There is indifference toward lost souls. We lack the
zeal of the early church. (Acts 8:4). Jehovah's
Witnesses and Mormons put us to shame.
2. The promised vengeance upon the wicked is coming. (Heb.
a. We are in the period of longsuffering now, but someday
the longsuffering of God will run out (Rom. 2:4-5)
A. The tears of Jesus.
1. We see Jesus weeping at the tomb of Lazarus. These were
"tears of sympathy."
a. He likewise sympathizes with us. (Heb. 4:15-16)
2. We see Jesus weeping in the garden of Gethsemane. These
were "tears of anguish" (as He faced dying on the cross).
a. "Though he were a Son..." (Heb. 5:8-9)
3. We see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. These were "tears of
sorrow" (as He thought of their impenitence and of God's
vengeance upon them).
a. Surely the Lord is weeping regarding the condition of
b. Even today the door of grace is not entirely closed, but
the day is coming when it will be closed forever.
(1) Let us take advantage of our day of peace, our day
when God's visitation is upon us for good.
(2) Jesus shed tears. Let us let those tears soften our
John 11:32-44 - "Tears of Sympathy"
Shows the humanity of Jesus - John 1:14; 4:6-7; 19:28
A person of tenderness and compassion - Heb. 4:15-16; Luke 4:18-19;
Jesus set the example - 1 Pet. 2:21; Rom. 12:15
Heb. 5:5-9 - "Tears of Anguish"
Agony in the garden of Gethsemane - Matt. 26:36-45; Luke 22:41-46
Why would He shed tears at all?
Hardest mental anguish
Redeem fallen man
Joy set before Him
Became the author of eternal salvation
Tears no substitute for obedience
Not always easy
Gives us strength
Luke 19:41-44 - "Tears of Sorrow" (about others)
Grieving over their impenitence - Matt. 23:37
Grieving because God's destruction was coming upon them