What It Means to Be Human: Grief

David Bast

Read: John 11:17-37

Jesus wept. (v. 35)

As every Sunday school child knows, it’s the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” But it’s also one of the more puzzling. Why should Jesus be crying when he’s about to raise Lazarus from the dead? The most obvious explanation is the one mentioned in the story itself. Jesus cried because he was grief-stricken. “See how he loved him!” commented the onlookers (v. 36).

Jesus wasn’t one of those carefree folks who joke their way through life and who never seem to be deeply touched by anything. He knew what it was like to have a broken heart. The Bible never says Jesus laughed, although I’m sure he did. But it does say that he wept. And it shows him doing so more than once.

Jesus Christ, the perfect human, knew tears and grief. Suffering is a mystery to me. I don’t understand why and when it strikes. Some people seem to be spared most of the pain that life can offer. For them the sun is usually shining. It’s always springtime, never bleak midwinter. But Jesus was one of the many whose souls are rubbed raw with suffering. When the prophet described him centuries before, he called him “a man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3).

Whenever sorrow comes to any of us, Jesus both cares and understands. He knows exactly how such pain feels. What is more, he can and will do something about it (John 11:25-26). —David Bast

Prayer: Jesus, Man of Sorrows, Resurrection and Life, my comfort and hope are in you.