The shortest verse in our English translations of the New Testament contains only two words: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). The Messiah’s sorrow comes in response to the death of his friend Lazarus, whom he will soon raise from the dead (11:38-44). It is common for Christians to compartmentalize this show of emotion into Jesus’ “human nature” because weeping is associated with vulnerability—a character trait that they assume couldn’t possibility apply to the Divine. However, Gospel readers should not be too quick to limit outward sorrow to Jesus’ humanity, since Scripture contains more than one instance of God shedding tears.

Jeremiah contains the clearest reference to divine weeping when God cries alongside the women of Israel: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider, and call for the mourning women to come… let them make haste and raise a wailing over us, that our eyes (עינינו; eyneynu) may run down with tears (דמעה; dim’ah) and our eyelids overflow with water’” (Jer 9:17-18). This passage highlights God as the speaker and includes the deity among those who weep over Israel’s coming exile. In light of Jeremiah, it is clear that to weep is both human and divine.

A similar picture of heavenly mourning appears in Isaiah. In the midst of an oracle against Moab (15:1), the text includes a lament for the towns of Israel’s contentious neighboring country, “I weep (בכה; bakhah) with the weeping of Yazer for the vine of Sibmah; I drench you with my tears (דמעה; dim’ah)… my innermost parts moan (המה; hamah) like a lyre for Moab” (16:9, 11). While one might assume that these verses describe the prophet’s own sorrow, the text that follows explicates that these were the words of God. Isaiah declares, “This is the word that the Lord spoke concerning Moab in the past” (16:13). As with Jeremiah, Isaiah presents the embodied outpouring of divine distress. According to the prophetic Scriptures, the God of Israel weeps. Therefore, when we read that “Jesus wept,” we must conclude that such emotion reflects both his humanity and his divinity.

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65 COMMENTS

  1. Beautifully said. Thank you. It seems man always tries to separate God and His Son. It happens, I think, when man completely separates the Hebrew Scripture from the New Testament and yet we know they are one in purpose.
  2. Thanks for this! This story has intrigued me, because He knew He would be illustrating what none of them were getting - eternal dimension, & resurrection. He wept as as the sacrificial Lamb - his own cup; and the broader vision of comprehension they would need in the future.
  3. Beautiful explanation. Thank you. I had often felt it was human and divine but had no basis to make that assumption. You have blessed me with this understanding.
  4. the depth of sorrow, I wept. I understand from the very bottom of me where that came from. the emptiness of nothing. a void that should have been filled with love and care, I wept not at a given time or place only when devoid of all.. I wept.
  5. One of my favourite verses in Scripture is Isaiah 63:9 "in all their distresses he too was distressed" it fits in with your helpful explanation. Thank you so much.
  6. Jesus wept over his friend which is one more manifestation of his mission, to experience all the pain and sorrow that mankind would experience, so that his atonement, and our redemption would be complete.
  7. It is clear Jesus wept in His whole person, but the deeper question is why did He weep? It cannot be for the death of His friend for He raised to new life. It must have been His sorrow for the failure of the people to realise His purpose
    • Have you ever met someone who had lost a close relative? You say you are sorry, even though you knew neither prior to this. And you mean it. Why? Because you are human, and you can recognize someone's intense sorrow. We all can connect with that, and truly we feel sorry as well. This was an emotionally charged moment Yeshua had walked into, so, "Yeshua wept."
  8. He knew days before that Lazarus was dead..the Pharisees assume he wept because He loved His friend..there must be more depth here..perhaps it is His conversation with Mary and Martha that brings Him to tears..because they "do not believe"..that He is the resurrection and the life???
  9. Wow, beautifully said! Weeping is not a sign of our distinction from Hashem but is a sign of our similarity to Him as His created beings that are made in His likeness and image. We weep, simply because He weeps. We mirror Him. Not the other way around.
    • Similarly, we as humans, have the ability to love because Hashem is love. We have the ability to demonstrate/show/exemplify mercy and compassion because Hashem is full of mercy and compassion. We, as humanity, are the imperfect reflection of Hashem. Yeshua, as the Last Adam, was the perfect reflection of Hashem.
    • We cannot adequately compare and contrast the exact differences between the functions of the human body with the functions of the divine and heavenly bodies, as no man has seen Hashem or has been close enough to a heavenly body to know the distinct differences between their functions...

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