34 And He said: “Where have you put him?” They said to Him: “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus shed tears.
36 Then the Jews said: “See how much He loved him.”
Jesus, like the others who had come to bring succour and comfort to Mary and Martha, wanted to visit the tomb of Lazarus. No one would have thought this a strange request, since, as we have seen, visiting the tomb of the dead during the first seven days after burial was the Jewish custom.
This custom was being observed by the women who went to visit the body of Jesus, which they had seen being placed in the garden tomb. On that occasion we know that they were greeted by a young man dressed in white (angel): “Don’t be astonished; you are looking for Jesus, the Nazarene, the One having been crucified. He is not here, He has been raised. Look here is the place where they put Him” – Mark 16.6.
Jesus would have been abiding by that custom, and by so doing, was paying honour and respect to Lazarus.
Then there was a very moving scene where Jesus appears to be overcome with grief.
However, we must ask the question what was the grief that caused Jesus to shed tears?
We must assume that it was not the grief of death, since Jesus knew that He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. Therefore, perhaps we can assume that it was the grief whereby he identified Himself with Mary and Martha, and also the whole crowd that were weeping and wailing to comfort the sisters. His sadness was the sadness of sympathy and empathy as He shared their tears.
Jesus is not immune from human emotions, since He created us with them.
Perhaps we have been in a crowd that has been enveloped in some kind of emotion. It may have been the emotion of joy as we watch our team score a goal. It may have been the emotion of music as we have drawn into the beauty of a particular piece of music that is being played.
Hopefully we have all been drawn into the emotion of worship as we have drawn closer to God as He draws close to us. Such an emotional time may often cause us to shed tears, particularly as we meditate on what Jesus has done for us on the cross.
Elizabeth C Clephane wrote the hymn: Beneath the Cross of Jesus, the third verse of which is:
Upon that cross of Jesus mine eyes at times can see
The very dying form of One who suffered there for me;
And from my smitten heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonder of redeeming love and my unworthiness.