The Greek verb translated “wept” is found only here in the Bible. Its root means “tears.” His were not the tears of a sentimentalist, but those of a pure, righteous, sympathizing High Priest (Hebrews 4:15). The word twice translated “weeping” in verse 33 is not the same word, meaning “to lament loudly, to wail.” Unlike these others, Jesus did not wail but wept quietly with tears flowing.
It is often supposed that Jesus wept only because He had lost a friend to death and because of the deep mourning of Mary and Martha. However, even before Lazarus had died, He knew that He would resurrect Lazarus to glorify His Father and as a sign of His Messiahship (John 11:4, 15). He was in complete control of the situation.
His weeping does show Him as a compassionate friend, and from this we learn that it is right and natural for us to sympathize with others in their afflictions. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15). Sorrow at the death of friends is not improper, yet we should not belabor it but help others who grieve to find peace in the God of all consolation.
We see in this miracle an instance of the tenderness of the character of Jesus, the same Savior who wept over Jerusalem and felt deeply for others even in their sins. To the same tender and compassionate Savior we may now come, knowing that He will not cast us away. His example shows that heartfelt mourning in the face of death does not indicate lack of faith but honest sorrow at the reality of suffering and death.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: The Resurrection of Lazarus (Part Two)