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Pastor's Corner: The tears of Jesus

Bible trivia enthusiasts likely know that the shortest verse in the Bible contains just two words: “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). There are several references in the Bible to Jesus crying or weeping.

The one just mentioned was at the graveside of a friend — a friend named Lazarus – whom Jesus was about to raise from the dead (John 11:1–44). This shows a Jesus accessible to human emotion, sharing the grief of others, experiencing the tragedy of death even as he was a conqueror over it. It’s a helpful reminder to all believers in loss and grief that they are not alone: our Lord also wept.

There’s another occasion when Jesus wept, recorded in Luke 19:41–44. There, the setting was a lament over Jerusalem, who had not recognized the day of her visitation. In other words, this was deep grief over spiritual blindness and hard-heartedness, over a rejection of the very mercy that was so necessary. This is a grief that relates to Christ’s work. For pastors, for everyone who cares about the triumphs of God’s grace, there is a similar comfort here. You are not alone in mourning over the people who don’t want grace, even though there is nothing they need more.

Another instance is found, not in the Gospels, but in the book of Hebrews. There we’re told about Jesus that “He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear." (Hebrews 5:7). The reference seems to be Christ’s agony in Gethsemane, when he persisted in prayer and received strength to go through with the overwhelming horror of the crucifixion. The tears on that occasion let us know that when we weep for the difficulties coming upon us, we are not in the wrong. There can certainly be wrong attitudes, but a sinless Savior also cried out and shed tears as dreadful affliction reached him.

Finally, since the Psalms contain the language of Christ, the references to weeping there also relate to Jesus. Jesus used the words of the Psalms as his own on many occasions, but very notably when he was being crucified (Psalm 22:1 and Matthew 27:46; Psalm 31:5 and Luke 23:46). He could use those words, because they were already his.

Thus Psalm 116:8 can be read in Christ’s voice: "For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling." These words tell us that in light of the resurrection of Christ, there will be an end to tears (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 7:17). They are often appropriate now, but a day is coming when crying is at an end. We can know that, because that day has already dawned for Christ.

Rev. Ruben Zartman has been the pastor at Ebenezer Reformed Church in Shafter since 2017.


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