“Jesus wept. -John 11:35
Is Jesus really that much like us? Did He feel pain? Did He experience sorrow, joy, exhilaration, exhaustion, temptation? He cried genuine tears of sorrow at the grave of His good friend, Lazarus. He cried with his sisters and friends while standing outside his tomb, when Lazarus actually lay cold and dead inside. His body had already begun early decomposition, and his sisters told Jesus the body had already begun to smell.
Why did Jesus cry when He knew He could and would raise Lazarus from the dead and that He planned to do such in a few moments? He cried because His dear friends did not really understand who He truly was: the Resurrection and the Life. He cried because of the anguished pain and oppressive tyranny of death due to sin. He cried because of the pain His friends’ grief caused to pour over His own heart. He was like us in every way except He was not a sinner. He never knew personal sin! He could not because He was the perfect lamb to take away our sin in His own sacrifice on the cross.
As He approached Jerusalem for the last time the week of His death, He stopped at the bend in the road where the sight of the city first greets a traveler’s eyes, and He wept. He cried tears of compassion for those who lived there because many did not recognize the time nor the reason of His coming as the only means of their peace. He cried because their Peace was being rejected. He was a man of great compassion, but sin was the great and ultimate blinder of eyes and hearts, as it still is.
He cried in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was taken prisoner by the soldiers working for the Jewish leaders who had come to arrest Him. As He prayed, He actually wept tears of blood because He was anguished He would not be able to drink the cup of wrath His Father desired He drink. He cried because of the great weight of redemption that was falling all on Him: the sins of the whole world and the ineffable separation from His eternal father, His eternal confidant, His eternal companion. It is a weight we shall never know. Its depths are too unbearable and far too deep for us mere creatures to comprehend.
These were precious tears, tears of your redemption, tears which were a vital part of your eternal salvation, tears which wash over you in a cleansing shower, removing the dust and grime of a lifetime of travel on the road of sin. The shed lifeblood from a perfect lamb and the tears of incomprehensible compassion, all intermingled to produce a cleansing from sin – your once inerasable, unabated, unforgivable sin, now washed clean by the one and only Savior of mankind.
“What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend, for this, thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end? O make me thine forever; and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.
(3rd verse of Bernard of Clairvaux’s hymn, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded, 1091-1153)
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