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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Anne Robertson

Saturday, February 19

Jesus began to weep, so the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
—John 12:9

Jesus and Lazarus were friends. So it’s a puzzle, when the sisters of Lazarus send word to Jesus that Lazarus is seriously ill, that Jesus doesn’t come right away. He takes his time, arriving well after Lazarus has died.

Jesus then stands outside of Lazarus’s tomb and weeps. Those on the scene assume that Jesus is crying because Lazarus has died, and yet Jesus knows that he’s about to raise Lazarus from the dead. So why cry?

I don’t know about you, but I cry just as frequently from joy as from sorrow. For some reason I cry when watching a victory. I cry when Olympic athletes are on the medals podium, no matter what country they’re from. I cried when Carl Yazstremski rounded the bases in Fenway Park for the last time and the crowds cheered. I cried when a special needs student walked across the graduation stage and received a diploma.

I think the tears of Jesus here are not tears of sadness, but tears of joy and victory. Jesus knows that Lazarus will only be dead about ten minutes longer. He knows what joy that will bring to his family and friends. But I think it’s more than that and more than love for just Lazarus. In the raising of Lazarus, Jesus prefigures the joy of all those yet to come when they realize that death is not the end.

I think he is crying tears of joy out of love for Lazarus, but also for all of us, as he sees the horrible grief around him and knows he is bringing an end to that weeping. It’s that love to which we respond. It’s that love that enables us to get through life’s tragic moments, remembering that, in the end, love will stand on the top of the podium with a gold medal. I get choked up just thinking about it.


Life-giving God, thank you for being the source of joy that moves us to tears. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.