Why did Jesus groan when Lazarus died (John 11:33)?

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The Bible says Jesus “groaned” in the spirit in John 11:33. “Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.”

Mary’s weeping and that of the close friends of Lazarus was a sincere display of sorrow, but much of the other weeping was probably the unthinking wailing which is characteristic of Oriental funerals. The word here translated “weep” occurs in Mark 5:39 to describe the artificial wail of the hired mourners.

The word groaned, which basically means “to blow” or “to snort [in anger]” occurs in Daniel 11:30 in a context that suggests annoyance. This idea seems to be there also in Mark 14:5.

The associated phrase, “and was troubled” (John 11:33), portrays the same idea here. Hence groaning describes a commotion of mind, a strong emotional experience, here of righteous indignation, without a doubt caused by the fake sorrow of the Jews assembled. Those very individuals would soon be in involved in planning the death of Jesus.

Jesus groans in the spirit over the lost and He is eager to save them. He calls them saying, “Cast away from you all your transgressions, by which you have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18:31). But He can’t force Himself on sinners. They need to respond to His call of salvation. And He promises to all that accept Him eternal life. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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