Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jesus Wept

In preparation for my Sunday sermon this week, a sermon from Isaiah 53:3 on the sorrows and suffering of Jesus on the cross, I had opportunity to reflect again on John 11:35. The significance of this verse is not that it is commonly conceived as the shortest verse in the English Bible, but the significance of the verse is what the verse truly, deeply, and meaningfully says about God. Jesus was, and is, God. Here at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus (God) is weeping. Twice more in this chapter (verses 33 and 38) the Bible speaks of how much Jesus was moved with emotion and compassion in the presence of death and grief. Jesus is not "putting on a show" for the crowd; Jesus is really and genuinely overwhelmed with emotion.

The thing that stuns me about this is that it is God who is weeping. He is standing at the tomb of a dear friend, a friend whom He will momentarily resuscitate from death, and He is weeping! Why? Is He weeping because He is bringing Lazarus back to a life of pain, sickness, and death? Is He weeping for Martha and Mary who grieve horribly over their brother's death? Is He weeping for His people who suffer, struggle, endure all sorts of sorrow and disappointments, sickness and ultimately physical death? Is He weeping for the world? Luke describes in his Gospel Account (Luke 19:41) that as Jesus approached Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, "He saw the city and wept over it."

God is not insensitive to the needs, pain, and heartache of His dear people. Isaiah 63:9 (NCV) says, "When they suffered, He (God) suffered also." Hebrews 4:15 explains to us that Jesus, as our High Priest, sympathizes with us in our weaknesses, faults, and failures. And added to this, Paul argues and teaches in Philippians 3:10 that Christians find in common suffering with Jesus (Note also Paul's reference in Colossians 1:24 to his filling up, in his suffering for the church, the suffering of Jesus.) a sweet and intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ. There is no more sweeter or more soul-satisfying fellowship with Jesus than the fellowship we have with Him in suffering.

In the film, Gods and Generals, at a particular point in the War Between the States, the Confederate General Stonewall Jackson has developed a friendship with a family whose home is near the place where the army is bivouacked. General Jackson enjoys the company of a young girl in the family. In the midst of a brutal and tragic war, General Jackson finds an innocent and precious respite in the fellowship of this little girl. But she becomes ill and ultimately dies of scarlet fever. When the report of her death is brought to General Jackson, he is immediately and obviously overwhelmed with grief at the news. He quickly and decisively walks away from the tent and his staff where he sits on a stump of a tree and begins to weep. He weeps convulsively and uncontrollably. His staff watches in stunned silence. General Jackson has never shown emotion before now; he has never cried over fallen comrades and friends in the war. Finally, one speaks voicing the confusion that many of them were feeling, "He has never wept before. When all of his VMI students were killed, when his friends and fellow soldiers were killed in battle, he never wept for them." But a wise man standing nearby says, "No, you are wrong. I believe he is weeping for them all."

When you think of Jesus weeping at Lazarus' tomb remember that He weeps for you as well. He is weeping for you when you hurt, when you are scared and uncertain, when you sin and fail and your heart is broken with conviction and guilt, and when you stand before death, He is weeping, He is weeping for you. HE IS WEEPING FOR US ALL."

1 comment:

  1. In Luke 19:41 The word wept means more than just crying but to (weep and wail). What a picture of our Lord. "Jesus looked at Martinsville IN and wept over it."