“Jesus Wept” Bible Quote Explained

“Jesus wept” is a Bible quote from John 11:35.

In this eBibleguide, Victor examines this Bible quote – the quote context, important facts about the quote, life lessons and Bible cross references.

Except otherwise stated, all scriptures are from the New Living Translation (NLT).

Quote and Verse Context

"Jesus Wept" (John 11:35) Bible Quote Explained

To have a better understanding of “Jesus wept” Bible quote, I will start by quoting relevant verses before and after the Bible verse with this quote. Before that, let’s examine the background of the Bible quote.  

The Background of the Bible Quote

Here is the background story of the “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) Bible quote:

In John 11, Martha and Mary sent a message to Jesus to inform Him (Jesus) that His friend Lazarus was sick. (John 11:3). However, when Jesus got the message, He did not rush down – He spent 2 more days before going over (John 11:5-6). Finally, before he decided to go, He said to his disciples, “Lazarus is dead..” (John 11:14).

When Jesus eventually arrived, He was told that Lazarus was already dead for 4 days (John 11:17). Then, Martha met Him and said  “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died“. (John 11:21). Jesus assured her that her brother will rise again. However, Martha thought Jesus meant the second resurrection. The conversation with Martha ended with Jesus saying to her “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).

Then, Mary (the second sister to Lazarus) came to Jesus and said exactly what Martha said to Jesus “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32). Then, she fell on her feet and started weeping. People that were consoling her also started weeping. It was that wailing and weeping that moved Jesus and in John 11:35, the Bible recorded our focus quote in this Bible study – “Jesus wept“.

Relevant Bible Verses Before “Jesus wept” (John 11:35)

To understand the context of “Jesus wept” quote, here are some relevant verses before the quote in John 11:35:

John 11:1
1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha.
John 11:3-7
3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”
5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus,
6 he stayed where he was for the next two days.
7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
John 11:11-15
11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!”
13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.
15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”

There are more relevant Bible verses before “Jesus wept” quote. Here are more verses that led up to this quote:

John 11:17
17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.
John 11:20-34
20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house.
21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.
22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.
26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”
28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.”
29 So Mary immediately went to him.
30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him.
31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there.
32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 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.
34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.”

Finally, in verse 35, the Bible recorded the quote for this Bible Study,

35 Then Jesus wept.

Relevant Bible Verses After “Jesus wept” (John 11:35)

To further give context to “Jesus wept” quote, here are some relevant verses after the quote in John 11:35:

John 11:36-44
36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance.
39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”
41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me.
42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.”
43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”
44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

Important Facts About “Jesus wept” (John 11:35)

"Jesus Wept" (John 11:35) Bible Quote Explained

Based on the focus quote for this Bible study – “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) – and other referenced Bible verses, here are some important facts about these verses:

  1. Even though Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were close to Jesus, Lazarus still became ill. (John 11:1). Moreover, when Jesus heard about it, He did not rush down immediately – he stayed 2 more days! (John 11:5-6).
  2. The Bible did not specify why Jesus delayed going to Lazarus but from the available facts in the story, it appears that Lazarus died the day Jesus was informed that he was ill – see point 4 below. So, Jesus would not have had the time to get to Lazarus, even though He (Jesus) left for Bethany immediately He was informed that Lazarus was ill.
  3. However, Jesus has the power to have spoken the word from where He was and Lazarus would have been healed (Matthew 8:8-13). There is no clear indication why Jesus did not heal Lazarus from where He (Jesus) was. But, from what Jesus said in John 11:4 and John 11:14-15, it appeared that Jesus was okay for Lazarus to die so that He (Jesus) could demonstrate His ability to save His followers from everlasting death.
  4. The Bible did not specify how long Lazarus was ill for before he passed on. However, Jesus stayed 2 more days after He was informed that Lazarus was ill (John 11:5-6). Moreover, by the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus was already buried for up to 4 days (John 11:17). There are 2 important deductions from this:
  • 1, if Martha and Mary sent words to Jesus immediately Lazarus got ill, Lazarus died the day Jesus received the message. This is because Jesus left 2 days after He was informed but by the time He arrived, Lazarus as already buried for 4 days.
  • 2, the journey from where Jesus was to Bethany took a total of 2 days walk. If this is true, (and it appears to be), it means that even though Jesus left immediately, Lazarus would still have been dead by the time Jesus arrived.
  1. What Martha and Mary said when each of them first met Jesus appear to indicate that they blamed Jesus for turning up late – (John 11:21, John 11:32). Or, that they we disappointed that Jesus turned up 2 days after He had been informed about Lazarus’s illness.
  2. The New English Translation (NET) study Bible offers 3 possible reasons why Jesus wept:
  •  A grief over the misconception of the people around Him – Jesus may have wept because people misunderstood death and gave it more credit than it deserves
  •  A grief over the effects of sin, death, and the realm of Satan – He may also have wept because of the sufferings caused by sin and death.
  • Finally, Jesus may have wept because he knew there was also a tomb for himself ahead
  1. Even though Jesus turned up “late”, He went on to raise Lazarus from death – reversing a “hopeless” situation.

Life Lessons from “Jesus wept” (John 11:35)

Life Lessons from "Jesus wept" (John 11:35)

Having quoted the relevant verses before and after “Jesus wept” – and the key facts from this Bible quote, here are the life lessons we can learn from this Bible Quote:

Believers Face Challenges as Well

Most times Christians do not expect to face challenges. One reason for this may be the way the Bible is explained to new and intending believers. We are generally told (or given the impression) that when we start following Christ, all our problems are resolved.

However, Bible stories and our personal experience prove that Christians, like other people face challenges too. From the story we read so far, it is obvious that Lazarus’s family are dedicated followers of Jesus. But, this did not stop him from getting ill.

This is true for all followers of Christ – we face life challenges like every other person on this side of heaven. However, the difference between the believer and other people, is that God goes trough the challenges with believers.

Resist the Temptation to Blame God

The second life lesson we can learn from “Jesus wept” Bible study is this: when life challenges strike, believers tend to either be angry with God, blame Him for “turning up late” or do both. However, as you will learn in the next 2 paragraphs, this is not the best approach.

This was definitely, Mary and Martha’s first response when each of them met Jesus – “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21 and John 11:32). The statement does not directly suggest that the sisters blamed Jesus. However, at the barest minimum, it suggested that they were disappointed that Jesus was not there to heal there brother. The people around also implicitly blamed Jesus (John 11:37).

Jesus Decides How and When Help Comes

One of the facts I highlighted in the facts section is that Jesus had the power to have sent the word and Lazarus would have been healed (Matthew 8:8-13).

However, He chose not to. Mary and Martha were expecting Jesus to respond in a particular way but He chose to respond differently.

This may also apply to our lives as well. Whenever we face life challenges, we may expect God to respond in a specific way. However, He may have other plans. One thing is sure: He always responds. The big question is this: do we “see” His response? Or are we expecting Him to respond in a certain way and that blinds us to His actual response.

Here is my recommendation: when life throws challenges at you, be open for God to help you find A solution, not The solution. There is a big difference between the 2.

So, here is the third lesson from “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) Bible study: God will always respond to your challenges but He may not respond when you expect or even how you expect.

God May Use Unpleasant Circumstances for His Glory

Let me start this section by making it clear that God does not allow bad things to happen – neither does He make bad things happen to us. He did not kill Lazarus. Bad things happen either when we make wrong choices or they just happen because we live in a fallen world. Sicknesses and diseases exist and people may get ill.

The point of this section is that when life has happened to you, God may use the bad situation to His glory. This is true in Lazarus’s case. It is also true about the man born blind in John 9:1-3. Jesus said that he was born blind so that God can be glorified.

How is God glorified by our bad experiences? By turning it around, He shames the devil. Also, when He turns bad things around, He establishes His bigger purpose in our life. He may also use the bad experiences to bless other people. This is definitely the case in Lazarus’s death. By not healing him from a distance. Instead, by raising Lazarus from death, Jesus established the fact He offers eternity to His followers.

This is worth the pain and anxiety that Mary and Martha felt in those 4 days. They had no clue that Jesus was going to bring their brother back to life. Therefore, they lived in the pain of their loss. But when Jesus turned their situation around, He established 2 things: 1, He took their pain away in an instant. 2, He establish His bigger purpose for both Lazarus, his sisters and the whole of humanity.

So, the 4th lesson from “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) Bible study is that, sometimes God may use our unpleasant circumstances for His glory.

Bible Cross References

  1. John 11:1
  2. John 11:3
  3. John 11:5-6
  4. Matthew 8:8-13
  5. John 11:4
  6. John 11:14-15
  7. John 11:37

I hope you found the study of “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) Bible quote helpful? Kindly share your views using the “Leave a Reply” form found towards the end of this page. You may also share your life experiences that will help other readers.

Finally, for more eBibleguide studies about other Bible quotes, visit our Bible Quotes Explained page.

Victor Ashiedu
Victor started following Christ on December 30th, 1999. He believes that believers have to spend time in God's word - the more you know the Word, the more you know your rights in Christ Jesus! He started eBibleguide.com, firstly to help him stay in God's Word. But, eBibleguide.com also hopes to contribute to the Christain community.

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