Thursday, December 31, 2009

The tears of Jesus

The most famous verse in all the Bible is probably John 3:16. It's a good one to memorize because of it's simple summation of God's love wrapped in the person of Jesus Christ.

One of the most popular verses among the kids at Bluff Springs is John 11:35: "Jesus wept." It's popularity comes from it being the shortest in the Bible and therefore the easiest to memorize for Wednesday night kid's memory verse recitals.

It's a very human thing to cry. We are not taught to cry; just the opposite. What is your first reaction to a child crying? Mine is to console them and tell them "Don't cry." We men are taught that if you are a real man, you don't cry. But Jesus, even though He was God in every way, even though He knew all things, even though He had the power to speak a universe into existence, even if His intention was to relieve the cause of the pain, cried at his friend Lazarus' funeral.

Jesus was in the last month of His life when He was told that El'azar (Lazarus) was sick. Jesus knew Lazarus and his sisters Miryam (Mary) and Marta (Martha) because Mary had been the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair. Jesus stayed at least two days before departing for Bethany, the home of Lazarus.

Some think that the town of Bethany was a leper colony. Jesus had dinner at the house of Simon the Leper (Mat 26:6) at Bethany and the name 'Bethany' means "House of misery." A leper community would be where those who are miserable could find some small level of comfort from the others afflicted as they were.

As Jesus arrives, Mary and Martha both express their faith in Him at verse 21 and verse 32 when they say "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Now, Jesus, being God, could look at the 4 day old, stinking, decaying body of His friend Lazarus and see the resurrection that lay ahead. He knew that this sickness would not end in death (11:4). So, what would lead Him to cry?

Seeing the devastating pain of loss of her brother in Martha and then seeing the identical pain in Mary was enough to drive God Himself to cry.

Jesus saw two of His precious sheep, who trusted their shepherd, who had faith that He could have stopped the illness in it's tracks if He wished, who had been cut to their hearts with grief, and God cried.

I think this is the most distinguishing thing about God over all other religions. Buddha stays blissfully detached from us, Allah demands that your sons die for him; while God cries with us and sent His Son to die for us.

The word in the Greek for "wept" is 'dakruo' which means to weep silently with tears on your cheeks. I want to leave this post where it is because next I want to look at the next time Jesus cried and see the difference between them.

Happy new year!