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John 11:35 says that Jesus wept. Itís the shortest verse in the Bible, and yet those two words are extremely important. Why would Jesus cry? In context, the verse refers to the death of Lazarus, Jesusí friend, and brother to Mary who had poured perfume on Jesusí feet. It would seem reasonable that one would cry over the loss of a friend, but Jesus was not just any friend. He was the Son of God. He of all people understood what it meant for someone to die here on earth. He knew what Heaven looked like, and what Lazarus must have been experiencing and seeing. He also knew that He would resurrect Lazarus. So why would Jesus weep?
The Bible doesnít say specifically. It says that He cried when He came to the tomb and that as He approached the tomb entrance He was deeply moved again. As a man, Iíve lost people close to me and I have cried over them, but I cry because I will not speak to them, or see them again as long as Iím alive. So, for the years that I have left on this earth, I cry because Iím going to miss them. But Jesus knew that He would see Lazarus again within moments, and yet He still cried.
Perhaps it was because He was sensitive to what those close to Him were going through. Maybe He cried because He saw the pain that His friends were experiencing, but even that is difficult to understand. He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. The pain that they suffered from was about to be completely wiped away and replaced with jubilation. He did not cry when he resurrected the Centurions son. Even as He hung dying on the cross, His mother, Mary, was below Him in absolute agony watching her son die a brutal and unjust death; and yet, He did not weep for her. Of all of the sick that He healed and the blind that He gave sight, the Bible only references Christ crying on two occasions. The first was in Bethany, before he resurrected Lazarus, and the second was for Jerusalem.
The second incident holds the key to that question for me. He cried over Jerusalem because He knew they would not accept the gift that He was about to give them.
Jesus did not cry for the dead, He cried for those whose heart still beat that He could not save. He cried because even though He was about to suffer as no man has suffered before, some would reject the gift He was trying to give them. The Bible says the way is narrow and the road is rough, so most will choose the easy path, and die because of it.
I believe that as He watched Mary and Martha and the rest of Lazarusí family grieve the loss of their brother, He realized that despite the gift He was about to give them, many, many people would reject it. He knew that He would grieve the loss of each one of those people much more, and for much longer, than any one of the people around Him were grieving the loss of Lazarus.
If God loves us as much as the Bible says He does, then it is more than we can comprehend. That being said, I know how difficult it was for me when I lost my mother. I can only imagine how hard it is for someone who has lost a child, but how much harder must it be for God to lose one of His children? And to lose so many! To love each and every one of the millions of people that will reject His gift that much, and to lose so many, is a pain we can not understand. As brutal as the cross was and as much as Jesus dreaded what He knew was coming, He must have been eager to do it rather than lose all of us.
And for what? Because we donít want to know Him? Why not?
Iím an introvert by nature. I donít particularly like meeting new people. It just doesnít come naturally to me, but I find that in most cases, when I do meet people, I usually enjoy knowing them. In this case, weíre talking about the perfect person. God being perfect doesnít just refer to His lack of sin. He has all of the positive personality traits that exist, and none of the negatives. He is the perfect person. No one that knows Him doesnít like Him. Have you ever met a Christian that doesnít like Jesus? I have met people who claim to be Christians that are angry at God, I was one of them, but those people donít really know Him. I didnít. Whatís not to like?
The only other reasons to reject His gift are either because we choose not to believe, or we believe, but donít want to give up our sin.
Do you think God created sin? If so, do you think He did it just to make life difficult for us? If you look at sin objectively, and consider the ramifications of it, you will soon realize that there is not a sin that doesnít bring pain and suffering with it. If you commit adultery, it causes strife, mistrust and jealousy in your marriage. Coveting in and of itself is a negative emotion. Liars get caught in their lies, losing the trust of the people important to them. Murderers have to live with knowing they took another life. Worshiping and praying to false gods doesnít accomplish anything, and creates unhappiness. All of the things God has asked us not to do only bring calamity back on ourselves when we do them. If there is a ďvictimlessĒ sin, please tell me what it is.
Whether or not you choose to believe is another issue; one that I have written about before. In the interest of not becoming redundant, Iíll simply point out that you canít know what you have missed in a relationship with someone if you never had that relationship to begin with. Where God is concerned, I believe that people know there is something missing, or not right, but they either choose to ignore it, or they continue to search in all the wrong places to find it. I feel sorry for those people. Not only because they are the cause of Jesusí tears, but also because they will miss out on so much while theyíre still here on earth.
While my heart hurts for those people, Iím glad that after so many years of being one of the people Jesus cried over, I have come to realize that He is what I was missing. I am excited about the way my life has changed, not just spiritually and emotionally, but in tangible ways as well.
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This is very good, Shay. I just wrote a chapter about compassion. I find that to be the simplest explanation. Christ was a compassionate man and he was moved to tears when he saw suffering, whatever its theological ramifications. Maybe that's why those two words say so much to me. That said, I respect you for seeking a deeper meaning in the scripture. That's what we all need to do.