First post here! Really enjoyed the Book of John :)

The phrase goes (NLT):”When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.”

My question is: Was he angry at what the sins of the world had done to the people he loved (Mary in this case as it was mentioned earlier at John 11:5 that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus)? What was he actually troubled about if he knows that he could resurrect Lazarus from the dead?


Edit: I have another speculation: that Jesus felt troubled as after performing this miracle is when the Jewish leader had decided to put a death sentence on Jesus’ head. He is part human part God, therefore He felt the human emotions at that time.

  • He was simply emotionally moved seeing them crying like any friend or family would. Its not about sin and all. NLT a paraphrase translation is not the best choice for you to primarily read the NT with; use a literal version as well like ESV, WEB CSB NAB etc. Use Mybible app on phone; or theword.net software for PC. He is not part human and god; but rather say truly human and God. God in flesh; son of God.
    – Michael16
    Jul 22, 2021 at 14:37

4 Answers 4


John 11:33. What was Jesus troubled about?

To arrive at a logical conclusion, let us take a look at the events that led up to this moment.

Verses 1-3 set up the scene with Lazarus's sisters sending a message to Jesus about the health of their brother.

At this point, Jesus already knows why this is happening.

But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”-vs 4

Jesus even lets his disciples know what the outcome of this event will be.

Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”-vs 11

So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”-vs 14

When Jesus arrives at Bethany and meets Martha, he tells her what is about to happen.

Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”-vs 23

Now we arrive at the scene in question.

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.-vs 33

So, why was Jesus "troubled"? Was he troubled because:

  • Lazarus' was ill? No. (see vs 4, 11)
  • Lazarus' had died? No. (see vs 14)
  • Martha thought that Jesus should have arrived sooner? No. (see vs 23)

The key is in the words of verse 33:

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. (bold mine)

Jesus saw the pain and distress that death had caused not just a cherished family member but his friends, colleagues, etc. That pain and distress are what caused Jesus' troubled state. He well knew that if our original human parents Adam and Eve had obeyed Jehovah God in the garden of Eden, then none of the troubles that plague us today would be here.

We then see how Jesus yearned to relieve that pain and distress by raising Lazarus from the dead. And this was just a foregleam of what Christ will do for all of mankind in the future resurrection spoken of by Martha and Jesus' response.

24“Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” 25Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.e Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.

  • Thank you for this helpful answer! Jul 22, 2021 at 15:19
  • @Gremosa it is the one that makes the most sense from the context.
    – agarza
    Jul 22, 2021 at 18:27

I wonder how many people who have struggled with this question (many commentators) are fathers with a daughter. If you see your daughter crying, that's the only reason you need to bring tears to your eyes, especially when they are deeply hurt as Mary was.

The full answer as previously given.

This question is similar to the question asking why Jesus wept in 11:35. The NLT oversteps in using the word "anger" to translate ἐνεβριμήσατο τῷ πνεύματι. At that point the NLT is interpreting rather than translating. Perhaps you should pose a question on he meaning of ἐνεβριμήσατο τῷ πνεύματι since this appears to be disputed among the translations.

The question is ἐνεβριμήσατο τῷ πνεύματι καὶ ἐτάραξεν ἑαυτὸν portraying one emotion toward the same group of people or are these two different emotions? If two different emotions, while ἐτάραξεν means strong feelings, it can also mean indignation. In this case that feeling is toward those who were hypocritical about their weeping and insensitive to Mary and Martha's pain. There was a group spying on them:

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. (John 11:45–46, ESV)

Jesus was sensitive to Mary and the people grieving around him. Although he purposely waited until Lazarus was dead for four days (11:39) to demonstrate that he could raise the dead no matter how long they were dead, Jesus was not insensitive to the pain this inflicted on those while he waited. Similarly, Jesus knew the pain his crucifixion would cause.

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.  When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.  So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:20–22, ESV)

Look how Jesus was sensitive to what Peter would face in his denial:

 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,  but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31–32, ESV)

Jesus feels and sympathizes with his disciples in their pain. Pain is common in our weakness of waiting on God:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14–16, ESV)


I think Jesus was troubled and wept in these verses from the frustration that his close friends still didn't understand who He was. They were still following the customs of the day, grieving and weeping just like the unbelievers around them. He had told them over and over again who he was, and they kept responding like unbelievers. See Mt. 14:31, 17:7, Lk. 9:40-41 Their belief in who He was (and is) was pivotal to how they would react at his death. For the good news of life and resurrection in Him to be spread, they needed to believe who He was. They didn't until He rose from the grave.

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  • You are right. The Greek words used in the text: He groaned in the spirit and was troubled mean that he was experiencing indignation and was agitated. He was not mourning. He was frustrated that the people who had heard all that he had said, had still not understood. The parable of the sower and the soil with thorns is relevant here. They were unable to bear fruit due to the cares of life in this situation - illness and death. Dec 24, 2023 at 4:29

Jesus, when He saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her weeping, was moved with indignation in His spirit and was troubled...Jesus wept...Jesus therefore, moved with indignation again in Himself, came to the tomb.

He was emotional. I'd say not angry at sin or imagining the future, but indignant, bothered by them not experientially realizing Him.

"Let us go into Judea again."

"Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and You are going there again?"

"Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going that I may wake him out of sleep."

"Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover."

"...but let us go to him."

"Let us also go, that we may die with Him."

"Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." (I don't understand her second sentence yet.)

"Your brother will rise again."

"I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day."

"I am the resurrection and the life...Do you believe this?"

"Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He who comes into the world."

"The Teacher is here and is calling you."

The Jews...supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.

"Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."

Then Jesus, when He saw her weeping

and the Jews who came with her weeping, was moved with indignation in His spirit and was troubled.

Jesus wept.

"Behold how He loved him!"

"Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man also have caused that this man would not die?"

Jesus therefore, moved with indignation again in Himself, came to the tomb.

"Take away the stone."

"Lord, by now he smells, for it is the fourth day that he is there."

"Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?"

...a certain one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all."

In other words it's a chapter also on human opinion and supposition. I didn't come up with that myself, but I see it now.

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