The Jesus who reveals himself at the tomb of Lazarus as the “Resurrection and the Life” is also the human Christ who wept. The Gospels consistently portray Jesus as a real human being, liable to weakness, limitation, emotion, and pain. We must remember that God is not like us. While we, God’s human creatures, bear his image, he does not bear ours. Part of the miracle and the mystery of the incarnation is the remarkable and merciful condescension of the Son of God in making himself like us. God is perfect in every way. He does not feel pain nor is he subject to change. He never adjusts or pivots to suit forces outside himself. The Westminster Confession of Faith summarizes well the biblical witness to the nature of God:
“There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for, His own glory, most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty” (2.1).
But in the Person of Jesus, the Son of God wept. He felt pain. He died. In the gospel accounts we see that Jesus grew and matured from a child to manhood. He hungered. He rested from labor. He longed with compassion for the people of Jerusalem. He experienced excruciating sorrow. He displayed righteous anger. Jesus felt what we feel. And all these human experiences Jesus assumed upon himself to be the saving Mediator between sinners and God.
This is the good news of the incarnation. We have a God who, for us and our salvation became like us, taking on the very nature of a servant (Philippians 2:7). Jesus wept at the tomb of a friend out grief for all that death had vandalized in God’s good creation. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).