At a recent funeral, the speaker characterized Jesus at Lazarus’ death in John 11 as being “angry.”
He said the word in John 11:33 translated, “groaned in his spirit,” in the King James Version, meant he was angry about Lazarus’ death. The reason why is because the same word is translated “straitly (or sternly) charged.” Therefore, because Jesus was translated as stern in both Matthew 9:30 and Mark 1:43, the word should be defined as “angered” in John 11:33.
Certainly anger can be present at death, since it is one of the stages of grief, but there is more to consider in the passage.
A reminder of the context of the passage is necessary here. The general emotional state was sorrow. When Mary came to Jesus, the passage tells us, “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit and was troubled.” The passage itself is the best definition of its terms.
Jesus cares! The emotions that welled up inside him flowed outside his body as a fountain. One translation said that “Jesus audibly groaned.” His feelings for those who were sorrowed at Lazarus’ death were visible (Jesus wept) and audible.
This idea was contrary to the Greek notion that the gods were apathetic to humans; caring neither that they live or die or mourn for those who have passed from this life. The true God of creation cares!
This display of emotion from the Christ is one of the most beautiful parts of scripture and is precious because it shows God cares when we are hurting.
“Oh, yes he cares! I know he cares!
His heart is touched at my grief!
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares!”