Summary: Briefly explores why Jesus wept at the tomb of His friend. Jesus’ empathy shows His emotional maturity and perfectness of His divine nature mingled with His human form.

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Divine Empathy

I was struck recently by reading the account of the death of Lazarus in the gospel of John. Several times in chapter 11 John describes Jesus as deeply troubled. In verse 35 the shortest verse of the Bible seems to punctuate the situation quite well saying simply, “Jesus wept.”

Jesus knew beforehand Lazarus was dead. He had told the disciples he would raise him even before they arrive in town. Surely He had the power over death and the grave. One may wonder why He was deeply troubled and moved to tears when His power was so great as to remedy the situation.

I think the answer lies in His Divine Empathy. The dictionary describes empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empatheia from the Greek are two words meaning “in” and “feeling”. So affected was Jesus by the sorrow of his dear friends in their loss, he was moved and deeply distressed. Moved to great empathetic sadness but not to despair.

This emotional side of Jesus shows the fullness and balance of His personality and maturity. The Bible depicts the Son of God as having all the normal human emotions minus the sinful reverberation we experience. The pureness and sinless-ness of His mind was not the weaker for His divine empathy, on the contrary His empathy was made perfect in His divinity.

What a picture to us of Christ’s love that we should model! Where is our empathy? Do we try to understand the feelings of others or just those we enjoy? See His marvelous empathy, be grateful and be inspired this month.

Lisa DeLay



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