“Jesus Wept!”


“Jesus wept” (John 11:35)

     INTRO.:   A hymn which points out how Jesus shed tears at the tomb of Lazarus and what this means to us is “Jesus Wept.”  The text was written by John Ross Macduff  who was born on May 23, 1818, at Bonhard, Scotland.   After studying at the University of Edinburgh, he became a minister at Kettins, Forfarshire in 1842.  In 1849 he moved to St. Madoes, Perthshire, where he published his first work Altar Stones, which included this hymn, in 1853; and in 1855 to Sandyford, Glasgow.  In 1857 the General Assembly appointed him to its Hymnal Committee.  Receiving his D. D. degree from the University of Glasgow in 1862, he also was granted an honorary degree about the same time from the University of New York.  His other works include The Gates of Praise, Morning and Night Watches, and The Faithful Promiser.  Of his several hymns, the only other one still in common use is “Christ Is Coming!”  After he retired from  ministerial work in 1871, he was living in Chislehurst in Kent, England, where he died  at his home of Ravensbrook on Apr. 30, 1895.  The tune (St. Joseph) used with “Jesus Wept!” was composed by  H. Heathcote Statham (1839-1924).

     The song applies the tears of Jesus in Bethany to us and our needs today.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus

“Who is this in silence bending O’er a dark sepulchral cave?

Sympathetic sorrow blending With the tears around that grave?

Christ the Lord is standing by, At the tomb of Bethany.”

 A. This stanza is often omitted.  It pictures Jesus standing in silence before the tomb of Lazarus: Jn. 11:38 (some newer books change the second line to “Over this dark burial cave”)

 B. Because Jesus wept showing sympathetic sorrow, the Jews could see how much He had loved Lazarus: Jn. 11:36

 C. While the Lord is no longer physically with us, He is still “standing by” and cares for us: 1 Pet. 5:7

II. Stanza 2 tells us that Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus

“Jesus wept! those tears are over, But His heart is still the same;

Kinsman, Friend, and elder Brother, Is His everlasting Name.

Savior, who can love like Thee, Gracious One of Bethany?”

 A. Even though the tears that Jesus shed at Lazarus’s tomb are over, His heart is still the same and He ever lives to make intercession for His people: Heb. 7:25

 B. He is a true Friend to all those who keep His commandments: Jn. 15:13-15

 C. And He is our Savior: Tit. 1:4 (some newer books want to change stanzas 2 and 3 to “like You,” but that destroys the rhyme with “Bethany.”  I just have to ask, have we become so culturally illiterate that we can’t have even a few instances of “Thee” in classic hymns?)

III. Stanza 3 tells us that we can trust in the same Jesus who was at the tomb of Lazarus

“When the pangs of trial seize us, When the waves of sorrow roll,

I will lay my head on Jesus, Refuge of the troubled soul.

Surely, none can feel like Thee, Weeping One of Bethany!”

 A. As long as we remain on this earth, pangs of trials and waves of sorrow will come: Jas. 1:2

 B. However, we can look to Jesus as the refuge for our troubled souls because He is the propitiation for our sins: 1 Jn. 2:2

 C. Jesus still weeps over a lost world just as He did over Jerusalem: Lk. 19:41

IV. Stanza 4 tells us that though He is in glory, Jesus still solaces people as He did at the tomb of Lazarus

“Jesus wept! and still in glory, He can mark each mourner’s tear;

Loving to retrace the story Of the hearts He solaced here.

Lord, when I am called to die, Let me think of Bethany.”

 A. Jesus has now been received up in to glory: 1 Tim. 3:16

 B. Yet, He still marks each mourner’s tear just as He brought solace when He was on earth: Matt. 8:16-17

 C. Therefore, we can think of Bethany when we are called to die, as all people are: Heb. 9:27

V. Stanza 5 tells us that Jesus loves us just as He showed His love at the tomb of Lazarus

“Jesus wept! that tear of sorrow Is a legacy of love;

Yesterday, today, tomorrow, He the same doth ever prove,

Thou art all in all to me, Living One of Bethany!”

 A. The tears of Jesus are indicative of the great love with which He has loved us: Eph. 5:2

 B. And we can be assured that in His love He is the same yesterday, today, and forever: Heb. 13:8

 C. Thus, as Christians we understand that because of His love He is all in all to us: Col. 3:11

     CONCL.:  Some newer books also change the last line of stanza 5 to “Loving One of Bethany!”  While it is true that the stanza emphasizes the love of Christ, the theme of the entire song is that Christ is not just a dead hero but a living Savior who still loves and cares for sinful mankind and who still provides for His people.  This we can be full assured of because “Jesus Wept!”


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