John 11:35 “ Jesus Wept” , it’s the shortest verse in the Bible so that itself causes us to take notice when we see that God chose to put this little thought as one verse, just two words. It has great significance. And I will talk about why he wept.
Look at verse 32.
The Bible reads, “Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.” And then of course, the famous verse “Jesus wept. “Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” ( This verse also confirms that Mary believed and that’s why she saw the glory of God when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead)
Of course, if we go on, He performs this great miracle, where He says “Lazarus come forth” and Lazarus came back to life. He raised Lazarus from the dead. But this is the first specific instance, I’m sure Jesus wept many other times in his life and so the question is, why did he weep? First of all, the reason that he wept, all of the times that he wept throughout his life, is because he was also a human being. A lot of times, we lose sight of that because the fact that we believe that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. And Jesus Christ certainly was God in the flesh. There are many, many scriptures to prove that. The Bible says, for example, in Hebrews 1:8 “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” So, spoken to the Son Jesus Christ, he said “Thy throne, O God is for ever and ever.”
God was manifest in the flesh and He became a man and the Bible calls him the Man of Christ Jesus. And when Jesus Christ was on this earth, he was tempted in all points like as we are. Yet, without sin. Jesus Christ hungered. He thirsted. He was tired. He became sad. He became angry. So we don’t want to lose that side of the fact that yes, Jesus Christ was a 100% God but he was also a 100% man, as well. He was God in the form of man. So he took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man. So we don’t want to forget the humanity of Christ. Even though we believe in the deity of Christ, the fact that he was God, but we need also to understand his humanity. For we as human beings go through times when we’re weak, don’t we? And if you look at great men in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, there’s a lot of weeping. The man who the Bible records more than any other weeping is David.
But in this passage, I believe that the reason that Jesus wept is because the people that he loved were suffering,if you would in the book of John 11. It says in verse 33, “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” So when Jesus saw her weeping and he saw the other Jews that were with her weeping, he was troubled. He groaned in the spirit. He wept. The Bible says, in Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” So Jesus Christ commands us in the Book of Romans, that we should weep with those that weep. And so here, we see Jesus weeping with those who weep. He is feeling the sorrow that they’re feeling. Because they’re sad, that made Him sad. The people that he loved were suffering, and therefore caused him to suffer.
It says in verse 34 “And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews..” Look at verse number 36, right when they see him weeping, “Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” You’d say, “Well, if that’s really why he wept..” We’ll jump back to verse 5 and God tells us. In John 11:5, the Bible says, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” So the Bible tells us that these were the people that Jesus loved. And so, therefore, when he sees them weeping, he’s weeping. And when they saw him weeping, that was evidence of his love for Lazarus, when they saw him weeping. And it says in verse number 37, “And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.”
And of course, the Bible says in Hebrews Chapter 4 verse 15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” So, it’s not that Jesus Christ is up in heaven, just cold and heartless, and not understanding the pain and the suffering that we’re going through. If you look at this passage, didn’t Jesus know that Lazarus is coming back? Because he had already planned this days before. He already explained. In the beginning of the chapter, he said “Lazarus is dead.” He said “Lazarus is sleeping but I’m going to awake him.” So he knew he was going to resurrect Lazarus from the dead. And a lot of times we’re going through pain and suffering in our lives, and we don’t know how it’s going to end up, right? We don’t know the future. We don’t know that everything will work out, We could believe that by faith, when we read the Bible and we look at its promises, but if we look at the immediate circumstances, we don’t know how they will turn out, do we? God does know how it will turn out. But that doesn’t mean that He’s just sitting up in heaven knowing that these people are going to be fine anyway and not sympathizing with the tears that we’re having in our immediate circumstance, our trials and tribulations and suffering. And so, he’s “not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” He sorrows with us when we suffer, when we’re in sorrow. Even if he knows that everything is going to turn out right, he still has sympathy with us and understands what it’s like. You know why? Because he’s been there.
He could sorrow with us and suffer with us because the Bible says “he can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” because he was, in all points, tempted like as we are, yet without sin. When you’re hungry and starving and don’t have any food, don’t have any money to buy food, Jesus knows what that’s like, because there were times that he was without food in his life. He was without food for 40 days and 40 nights. You say “that’s impossible.” First of all, with God, all things are possible. But second of all, there are people in modern day, who got 40 days without it. But you can’t go 40 days without water. But you can go 40 days without food. I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think I have the reserves for that, but I know I have gone without food for days, that wasn’t a choice, just my circumstance at the time But some people probably could, I don’t know. But I know there are men in our days who have gone 40 days without eating. But it’s not fun. It’s pain, it’s suffering. And so, when you’re hungry, Jesus knows what it’s like to be hungry. When you are working hard and staying up all night and you have to work all night, and you work a crazy amount of hours, Jesus knows what that’s like, because there are many times in the Bible that Jesus had to stay up all night. There were times in the Bible, where Jesus couldn’t find a place to sleep. And so when you don’t have a place to lay your head, he’s been there. When you lose a loved one, he’s been through it. When you go through times when you’re having problems with your family and they’re persecuting you, you know what, he’s been there, because his brethren mocked him and didn’t believe on him. He has been through everything that we go through in our lives. He lived down to serve for 33 ½ years and the Bible says, and I believe it, that he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. There’s nothing you could say “I’m going through some of those harder than what Jesus went through. He doesn’t understand.” No, he’s been through worse than anything you go through, he’s gone through worse in his life.
Therefore, he can understand and he can sympathize with us, when we’re going through hard times. And I believe that he sympathized with their sorrow and sadness here in this story. He wept when the people that he loved were suffering. And we should be the same way. We’re commanded to rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep. The Bible says “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” We should be concerned. When other people are suffering, we should suffer. And when other people are rejoicing, we should be happy for them. Not to be self-centered, where everything is just about what we’re going through in our life. If things are going great for us, we don’t want to hear about anybody else having a hard time. And we’re just having fun. Things are going great. Or, “I’m sad right now. I’m sorrowing right now. I don’t want to hear your good news. I don’t want to rejoice with you right now.” But the Bible says we should get the focus off ourselves and focus on what other people are going through. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. And we should rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep. And that is being Christ-like when we live our lives in that way.
Peter Waldo was a wealthy merchant, well respected and a man of influence, in the community of Lyons. One evening, while entertaining friends at his home, one of them suffered a sudden seizure and died. This incident so shook Waldo that he began to seriously think of his soul and eternity beyond the grave. He began to regularly attend church services, but was not satisfied with the superficial rituals in Latin. He employed two priests to come to his house to translate the Gospels of Christ into French. Waldo was most excited as he read, meditated on and carefully studied the Words of Christ.
Yet, instead of comfort and peace, he found conviction and challenge. He saw himself as the foolish rich man who was laying up treasures on earth, but was spiritually poor towards God. Again and again he read the Words of Christ:
Take heed and beware of covetousness, for the abundance of a man’s life consisteth not in those things which he possesseth. Luke 12:15.
He determined to obey the command of Christ to the rich man recorded in Mark 10:22: If you wish to be perfect, sell what you have and follow Me. This Waldo saw as the Gospel resolution to his personal crisis. He determined to follow this exhortation of Christ literally. He gave all of his possessions to the poor in his community as restitution for his former business practices. He denied himself and followed Christ as a poor man.
As Waldo’s friends, family and neighbours thought him insane, he replied to them:
“My friends and fellow citizens, I am not out of my mind as some of you think. I have avenged myself on these my enemies, who kept me in such slavery, that I cared more for money than for God, and served more willingly the creature rather than the Creator.”
After Waldo had finished distributing all of his property and possessions, he found many of the poor standing by his side, not content with mere existence, but desiring to live as true Christians, even as Waldo was demonstrating and proclaiming.
After receiving a call from the pope’s representative to clarify his position and the intentions of his new movement, Waldo declared:
“.We have decided to live by the Words of the Gospel, especially that of the sermon on the Mount, and the Commandments, that is, to live in poverty, without concern for tomorrow. But we hold that also those who continue to live their lives in the world doing good will be saved.”
Waldo did not intend to separate from the Catholic Church, but rather to work for its reformation from within. It also was not his intention to start a new church. From the beginning the Waldensians described themselves only as: The poor. Vows of poverty in the Middle Ages were not unusual. There were numerous monastic movements, which had done that, such as The Franciscans of Francis of Assisi.
However, Waldo remained a layman, and his followers did not call themselves brothers as the monks did, but as co-members of the society. They took these terms from the business world, and avoided describing themselves in religious terms. They wanted only to be a group of lay persons who were working together for the living and preaching of the Gospel. Their purpose was to live the Christian Faith according to the teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the Gospels.
For this purpose they emphasised the importance of hearing and understanding the Word of God, the Bible. It was from the Scriptures that men and women could know Christ as the focus of their faith. They chose to live in voluntary poverty and sought to be faithful in proclamation of the Gospel in public. This greatly offended the religious leaders of their time and brought the wrath of the Catholic church upon them. The archbishop of Lyons attempted to stop Waldo from preaching. Public preaching, according to the Catholic theologians, was reserved for the clergy alone.
According to Catholic belief and practice at that time, Waldo, the merchant, not being ordained, had no right to preach. This Waldo challenged:
“.Who are the real successors of the Apostles? Not necessarily those who are ordained, but rather those who respond to the Lord’s call and live like the Apostles of old. What makes one a true heir to the Apostles is not ecclesiastical ordination, but faithfulness to the Word of God. The authority to preach God’s Word does not come through any church organisation, but from Christ Himself.”
Waldo asserted that God’s Word and His Spirit do surely act within the church, but they are not solely administered by it.
As a result, Waldo was severely threatened by the archbishop of Lyon. The archbishop ordered him to cease his preaching. To this Waldo responded:
“.It is better to obey God than man.”
For this bold defiance, quoting the words of the Apostle Peter in Acts 4:19, his followers began to call him Peter Waldo.
The archbishop excommunicated Waldo and had him banished from the city. With great zeal, Peter Waldo and his followers scattered the Gospel seed throughout Northern Italy, Southern France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. The Council of Verona pronounced fearsome anathemas upon the poor men of Lyons who presumed to preach the Gospel without ordination, and to dare to translate the Scriptures from Latin into the vernacular. As a result, the Waldensians were hunted down by agents of the Inquisition and many thousands were imprisoned, tortured and put to death.
At first the Waldensians were pacifists, rejecting any form of violence, even in self-defense. They also refused to take oaths. However, in time, other generations of Waldensians grew to be resourceful soldiers, tenacious fighters and innovative military strategists, defeating Catholic armies and securing religious freedom for their beleaguered families in the Alps of Piedmont.
Some of the Waldensian precepts for living in the world included:
▶We must not love the world.
▶We must, if possible, live at peace with men.
▶We must shun evil company.
▶We must not avenge ourselves.
▶We must love our enemies.
▶We must possess our souls in patience.
▶We must not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
Some of the Waldensian precepts for personal holiness included:
▶We shall not serve the lusts of the flesh.
▶We shall govern worldly thoughts.
▶We shall mortify our members.
▶We shall shun idleness.
▶We shall practice works of mercy.
▶We shall live in faith and morality.
▶We shall fight against lusts.
▶We shall speak to one another of the Will of God.
▶We shall diligently examine our consciences.
▶We shall purify, improve and compose the spirit and mind.
Despite centuries of relentless, and vicious, persecution and harsh oppression, the Waldensians not only managed to survive, but to expand, always attracting new followers and managing to proclaim the Gospel in new areas.
Peter Waldo grasped the great Reformation principles of the supreme authority of Holy Scripture, and salvation by grace through faith. He lifted up the principle that Christ’s Law must be supreme. He recognised that the churches had become unfaithful to God’s Law and to the Gospel of Christ. In their worldly quest for temporal riches and power, the church had long since abandoned the humility of Christ and the poverty of the Apostles. By compromising with the world it had lost its spiritual power.
But the Waldensians did not seek to be separatists, but to purify the church from within. From the very beginning of this movement, the Waldensians have always been known as distributors of the Scriptures and Christian literature. As a result, their followers were found as far afield as the Danube River in Austria, in Northern Germany and in Bohemia where their teachings and example helped inspire the great Bohemian professor and Reformer John Hus.
Some of the most effective Waldensian evangelists were salesmen, merchants who travelled from town to town selling fabrics, clothing, jewelry, artifacts, and alluding to more precious goods in their possession ? to jewels of inestimable value, even The Pearl of Great Price, the Gospel of Jesus.
In German, the Waldensians were called: Apostles. The Polish described them as: Men who tell the truth.The Waldensians became known as those who proclaimed the Bible as the only rule for faith and conduct. They rejected the papacy, purgatory, indulgences, the mass, and other forms of superstition, as unBiblical. They rejected religious formalism in favour of Gospel simplicity. They promoted Christ-centred worship, Bible reading, faithful prayer and Scriptural preaching as the responsibility of all believers.
The Council of Valencia (1229) forbid men who were not priests to read the Bible, whether in Latin or in the vernacular. The Bible itself was placed on The Index of Forbidden Books. A savage wave of persecution rose up against the Waldensians. The Inquisition resorted to a murderous campaign which tortured and slaughtered thousands of these faithful Bible believers.
Early in the Reformation, French Reformer, William Farel, travelled across the Alps and recruited the Waldensians into the mainstream of the Reformation. The persecution of the Waldensians intensified in the 17th Century and in 1655, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, declared a Solemn Fast on behalf of the suffering Waldensian believers. The Protector threatened to send the English Navy to the Mediterranean to strike a blow on behalf of the Protestant cause, and threatened military intervention unless the persecution ceased. Oliver Cromwell’s secretary, John Milton, wrote a famous sonnet on the Massacres at Piedmont, and Cromwell himself headed a campaign to raise support for the Waldensians with a personal gift of 2,000 pounds. He urged their cause so whole-heartedly that over half a million pounds was donated for the suffering Waldensians.
Cromwell’s vigorous intercession, and threat of mobilising English naval and military action, brought the persecution of the Waldensians to a close. The Waldensians survive to this day, the oldest Evangelical church, with a heritage of over 800 years of faithful proclamation of the Gospel and firm resistance against tyranny.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the Tree of Life. Revelation 2:7