“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus,” the Gospel of John tells us (John 11:5), so, when Martha and Mary sent Him word that their brother, Lazarus, was gravely ill, they must have expected that He would have come right away in order to perform a miracle, in order to heal their brother and stabilize their lives. Jesus, however, did not come—not right away. Instead, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby,” and He “abode two days still in the same place where he was” (11:4, 6).
While Jesus waited, Lazarus died, and his sisters resigned themselves to laying their brother in the tomb. Finally, Jesus made His way to Judæa, where He found Mary, Martha, and many others in mourning.
Martha must have been bewildered at the Lord’s late arrival. Word had been sent to Him in time, but something had delayed Him, preventing Him from saving Lazarus while he yet lived. In her sorrow—perhaps even feeling betrayed by the delay—Martha approached Jesus and said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:21). Martha, however, then asserted her faith that all was not lost, and she led Jesus to her brother’s tomb. At the tomb, Mary fell down at Jesus’ feet and, echoing her sister’s sorrow, said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (11:32).
“The sight of the two women so overcome by grief,” James E. Talmage once wrote, “caused Jesus to sorrow so that He groaned in spirit and was deeply troubled.” Indeed, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35), showing us that God—even the Master and Architect of all things—sorrows along with us in our moments of anguish. Jesus knew that He had come to restore Lazarus’ life, but that did not stop Him from comprehending the sorrow of Lazarus’ death or from weeping with those grieving sisters.
Speaking of this sacred, tearful moment, Linda S. Reeves said, “This experience testifies of the compassion, empathy, and love that our Savior and our Heavenly Father feel for each of us every time we are weighed down by the anguish, sin, adversity, and pains of life.” They are not unfeeling arbiters of cosmic justice and order. They are our Father and our Savior, and they love us with such depth that it is impossible for them to ignore our pain. Thus, our tears are not infinitesimal blips on the radars of the universe; rather, they are the tears of a sorrowing daughter or of a discouraged son, tears that can move even the Almighty to weep along with us. As Sister Reeves explained:
[O]ur Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, know us and love us. They know when we are in pain or suffering in any way. They do not say, “It’s OK that you’re in pain right now because soon everything is going to be all right. You will be healed, or your husband will find a job, or your wandering child will come back.” They feel the depth of our suffering, and we can feel of Their love and compassion in our suffering.
Yes, “Jesus wept,” the scriptures say, and in so doing, they teach us that Jesus yet weeps with us when tears rim our eyes. He does not discount our pain because He has the solutions, nor does He dismiss it as the mere pain of mortals. Because He loves us, He feels our pain as we feel it, suffering alongside us—and, because He is God, He brings us solutions, even miracles, when we rely on Him in humble faith.