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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Two Words for the Ages: "Jesus Wept"




"Jesus wept."

--Gospel of John, Chapter 11, verse 35

This is the shortest verse in the King James Bible.

This verse occurs in John's narrative of the death of Lazarus, a follower of Jesus. Lazarus' sisters Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus of their brother's illness and impending death, but Jesus arrived four days after Lazarus had died.

Jesus, after talking to the grieving sisters and seeing Lazarus' friends weeping, was deeply troubled and moved. After asking where Lazarus had been laid, and being invited to come see, Jesus wept. He then came to the tomb and told the people to remove the stone covering the tomb, prayed aloud to His Father, and ordered Lazarus to come out, resurrecting him before the mourners.


Why did Jesus weep when He had the power to resurrect Lazarus? Why was He moved to tears?

Most biblical authorities agree that Jesus's crying demonstrates that the Christ was indeed a true man, with real bodily functions such as tears, sweat, and blood. It affirms his earthly form.

Some scholars believe the act also shows the sorrow, sympathy, and compassion Jesus felt for all mankind. There are those who say he cries over the grief felt by Mary and Martha. Some researchers even think that Jesus, standing in front of the tomb of Lazarus, was angry at death and at the abnormality of the world -- the destruction and distress caused by sin.

Witness Lee, famous Chinese Christian preacher, states "to be a vessel to contain God, man was created with emotions." He argues that every person to whom Jesus talked in John 11 (his disciples, Martha, Mary, and the Jews) was blinded by their misconceptions. Thus, He "groaned in his spirit" because even those who were closest to him failed to recognize that He was, as He declared in verse 26, "the resurrection and the life." Finally, at the graveside, he "wept in sympathy with their sorrow over Lazarus's death."

 (Witness Lee. "Life Study of John, Chapter 23, Section 2)

Consider the tears of Jesus. They are the tears of a man and the empathy of God. He shed the visible drops of emotion for human beings, whether in grief for Lazarus or in realization of the inefficacy of mankind.

To consider that Jesus was moved to tears is powerful in itself. The son of God would seem to most people to be omniscient and too almighty to be a man of sorrows. He must have known he could raise the dead. Yet, the passage "Jesus wept" proves He was acquainted with grief, and notifies the world He was a savior who could be touched by and with human emotions.

Two words -- "Jesus wept" -- solidify the reason for our grief over lost loved ones and our faith in redemption and resurrection. I believe as Jesus Christ shed tears, He proved the necessity of the human inclination to mourn death, yet he also allowed the living to look beyond their feeble human condition. The pain of loss and empathy for those who have experienced loss is essential to us all. Yet, Jesus, true God and true man, is with us in all our pain and suffering.

How terrible it must be to live without faith. In this world we encounter so many grievous situations that our tears can progress until living seems unbearable. When this occurs, and I believe it does to every human to a great extent, those without faith have no hope. Many of them slip into deep depression and find themselves freefalling into a darkness that consumes their spirit and eventually deadens their soul. When humans refuse to seek help from above, they become walking bones and flesh without direction. They are homeless, wandering spirits.

God does not intend for frail human beings to be alone in their struggles, but when people are faithless, they choose to deny that Jesus once wept for their misunderstandings. Doubt can be deadly. I believe no one can experience the fruits of living without faith in a God who offers the gifts of unconditional love, forgiveness, and life after death.

Through his visible tears, Christ has proven that faith is not a mirage. It is up to each person to experience similar tears and to accept faith. We hurt; we endure pain; and we cry; however, we must find comfort that God has graced us with gifts we do not even fully understand. I believe the wet drops that Jesus shed are symbolic of our need for trials, for empathy, and for belief. The tears show us the sovereign nature of God and the extraordinary power of belief.

I think it is very likely Jesus knew all along He intended to raise Lazarus from the dead. And still, He wept. As a savior, his tears flowed upon the earth of a cruel world that can only be abundant to those who have faith that God does not intend for anyone to perish.

His tears are proof that He sympathizes with our weeping and our joy. Those with undying faith realize He is with us in every aspect of our lives. The tears He shed enriched the living before he raised the dead. They are visible proof of Jesus's immortal soul and fell to earth to fertilize his never-ending love for humanity.

And Jesus Wept

"Lord, if You had been here, "
Mary Magdalen cried.

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

She knelt before Him in the dust
She kissed the Master's feet
She washed them in her falling tears
There - kneeling in the street.

She took Christ then, to Lazarus' tomb
In grave-clothes there he slept.

"See how He loves him," said the Jews
As, sorrowing, Jesus wept.

Across His cheeks down through his beard
The shining teardrops wound
Then one by one fell from His chin
Like shards upon the ground.

Jesus called - Lo, Lazarus lived!
Then many saw the Light
As thunder rolled and angels spoke
Christ walked into the night.

At dawnlight Mary went to where
Christ's tears had wet the street.
She found there growing in the dust
A vine - and ears of wheat! 



--Margaret Kollmer


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