33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
Verses 33 to 37 are a picture of mourning. Some were professional mourners who had no personal connection to the family. This group would have led a funeral procession to the tomb for burial. It was culturally common in that day that those who lost someone in death did not mourn alone.
Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping,
Jesus saw Mary weeping. The Greek word for “weeping” means loud wailing.
and the Jews who came with her weeping,
The Jews also came with Mary with noisy, unrestrained emotion. It was customary for Jews to mourn collectively. However, this kind of mourning had risen to the point of sheer professionalism. Fake mourning may have been the cause of Jesus’ outrage in the next sentence.
He groaned in the spirit
Although Jesus had a clear understanding of the situation with Lazarus, He empathized with those who had lost their loved one.
“Groaned” can mean either groaned or angered. The New Testament uses this word four other times (Mt 9:30; Mark 1:43; 14:5, and Jn 11:38). If anger is the meaning, then His anger could have been directed toward Satan’s tyranny of bringing death and sorrow over these sisters. This was anger against death itself. Jesus came to destroy death.
The idea may be indignation. Jesus’ anger rose to the place of outrage or indignation. His indignation may have been also toward the phony mourners who faked bereavement. He was personally agitated with what He saw. Professional grief was one thing, but grief that degenerated into despair was something repulsive to Jesus. This is implicit denial of the resurrection of the body. Whatever the situation Jesus was profoundly moved by what He saw.
Jesus’ anger was not uncontrollable grief but irrepressible anger against the tyranny of death and the effects of sin, which produced sorrow and bereavement. People who have no hope are a source of anger to our Lord.
and was troubled.
In addition to anger, Jesus was “troubled” or stirred over this problem. “Troubled” carries the idea of repressing emotions. Jesus had an intense reaction to what He saw—a group of people who acted like pagans at a funeral. He gathered unto His own person all the misery that He saw; He saw sorrow and broken hearts.
Seeing Martha and Mary in deep grief caused Jesus both to be angry and to groan within Himself. All this came from the sin of man.
We need to keep in mind that some of this crowd would believe in Jesus by faith (Jn 11:45).
And He said, “Where have you laid him?”
Jesus wanted to know the location of the tomb. He never used His omniscience when operating in His humanity.
They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
Instead of giving Jesus direction, they led Him to the tomb.
Holy indignation is a valid posture to take.
It is valid to hold indignation at the effects of sin (Lu 19:41; He 5:7). Jesus was indeed “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is 53:3). His anger was not a selfish or subjective anger but an objective anger at an evil. Grief and compassion without outrage over the cause behind death is mere sentiment.