"When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, 'Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept." (John 11:33-35, NASB)
"Why did Jesus weep?" This happens to be one of my favorite questions because it truly makes me think about Jesus and His amazing ability to be both 100% God and 100% human. The most common response I get to this question is that Jesus was sad for His friend, Lazarus. The second, is that Jesus was crying because the people had little or no faith in Him.
Both answers could absolutely be true, but it has always been a bit hard for me to completly grasp because of other factors within the story. There are also other text within the Bible that help me to think that there may have been a different reason. I have a clause that I use often in my messages and it applies here as well, "This is not a heaven or hell issue." The truth is that Jesus wept just before He raised Lazarus from the dead. No matter the reason, that is what happened. We can only take educated guesses at the rest and if we get it wrong, it won't hurt or help our Salvation. With that in mind, I can discuss these topics without worrying if I get it wrong. Now, it can be fun and exciting to discuss.
First of all, Jesus could have been weeping because His friend was dead. I do not feel this is accurate because earlier He told His disciples that Lazarus was dead. He also delayed coming to see Lazarus for that reason (v. 1-14). This gives an insight to the God side of Jesus, He knew that Lazarus was dead and He also knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus also delayed His returning to the city. There are many times that Jesus delays His response in our lives as well. Keep in mind that it is never too late for Jesus to show up. He can overcome anything in your life; He is never too late.
The second possibility, and the more logical in my opinoin, is that Jesus felt for the people. He had concerns because of their lack of faith in Him. This seems more reasonable as that was the story within His entire ministry. He is continually saying that there is little or no faith within the people and within His own disciples. It is rare to find Jesus weeping for their unbelief in the Bible. He was more often frustrated and dissappointed in their lack of faith.
We know that Jesus knew that Lazarus was dead and that He would be raising Him from the dead. Since He had known both of these items for many days now, it doesn't make sense that He would be weeping for Lazarus in the grave. Jesus did not lack faith that He was going to accomplish this miracle, in fact, He would have probably been excited that He was about to blow their minds! How exciting to see someone be raised from the dead!
Jesus knows that Lazarus will be alive shortly; His close friends have very little faith, but that seems to be a normal thing for Him. What could we possibly be missing? That Jesus is God and that He is all knowing. What does Jesus know about raising the dead that we do not know (besides everything)?
When Jesus commented to His disciples, " You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. '" (John 14:28, NASB)
Paul says that "Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:6-8, NASB)
Lazarus was considered a very good friend of Jesus. Both Paul and Jesus speak of being in Heaven after leaving this earth. I truly feel that Jesus was weeping because He knew that He was bringing Lazarus back to this sinful world where he would have to face death once again. This could also be the reason that Jesus took His time returning to the tomb. Maybe He was allowing Lazarus to enjoy Paradise a little longer.
I often joke about the discussion that Jesus may have had with Lazarus (just a thought; it's not Biblical). Jesus may have been weeping as He told Lazarus, "I know you are having a great time in Paradise, but I have to bring you back to earth." I may not be correct, but it makes more sense to me that Jesus would be weeping for bringing someone out of Paradise rather than the opposite.
As Christians, we have Heaven waiting for us. When we leave this world we are instantly with the Father. We can rejoice that death is defeated in victory.