Jump Start # 2118
John 11:36 “So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him.”
Our verse today follows the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35. Just about everyone knows this verse and it was a favorite to memorize because there are only two words, “Jesus wept.” The occasion was at the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus came to raise Lazarus. He purposely delayed so Lazarus would be dead. Even knowing what He was to going to do, Jesus wept.
Men don’t cry much. There is a story that supposedly Jackie Kennedy told her little three year old boy at the funeral of John F. Kennedy, that Kennedy men don’t cry. The Bible allows us to see that Jesus wasn’t a machine. He had emotions. He cared. One of the greatest ways we show our compassion is through tears.
My dad has been staying with us for a couple of weeks. We were talking about World War II over dinner. He had one sibling, an older brother. He had been drafted in the Army. My dad had enlisted in the Marines. It was 1943, and World War II was going strong. He told me a story that I had never heard before. The morning he was to leave, his father, my grandfather, opened the bedroom door of my dad’s room. He stood in the doorway and cried. My dad was awake. He had never seen his dad cry before. My grandfather had two children, both boys. Now, both were going to be in a dreaded war. This was in a world long before video chatting, cell phones or emails. Letters were slow in delivery and were edited by the military. They actually cut out any references to battles, places or mention of troops. So, here stood my grandfather, preparing to leave for work, standing in the doorway of his youngest son, who that day, was heading off to a war. He didn’t know if he would ever see him again. As dad was telling this story that took place 75 years ago, tears came to his eyes at our kitchen table. I cannot imagine the feeling of possibly losing all my children in a war. The crosses at Normandy remind us that not only did many Americans die, many never came home to be buried. When those young men left their homes, it was the last time for many parents to ever see them.
Our verse came to my mind when dad was telling this story. Not only did the Jews see Jesus cry, but so did the disciples. They had seen Jesus calmly end a violent storm. They had seem Jesus deal with a screaming demonic who was running towards them. They had seen Jesus calm angry crowds. They had seen Jesus in the home of a family whose little daughter had just died. Jesus always seemed calm under any situation. Even when He was upset by the abuse in the Temple and He turned the tables over and drove the people out, He was under control. No bad words. No apologies needed the next day. No violence.
But here, in Bethany, standing at the tomb of Lazarus, moments from raising him, Jesus wept. The sadness of the hour and seeing His dear friends, Mary and Martha hurting because of grief, and possibly realizing that not too far out, He would be in a tomb as well, Jesus wept.
It’s ok to cry. Jesus did. Paul said to the Romans, “wept with those who wept.” You and I see this. We understand this. But thinking about my dad’s story, I wondered if God wept when Jesus went to the cross. Technically, we could say that God is a spirit and spirits do not weep or suffer as humans do, but move past all of that. Seeing what they were doing to Jesus, the mocking, the ridicule, the scourging, the nails, how could it not bring a tear to God’s eyes. And, more, we know that Jesus could have called down legions of angels to stop all of this, it is a wonder that God didn’t stop it. The language of Isaiah 53 is brutal. There we find expressions such as: smitten, afflicted, pierced through, crushed, chastening, oppressed. I wonder how God could watch what they did to Jesus. I wonder if God cried when Jesus died.
From that I wonder if God cries today. I wonder if He cries when He sees His holy word trashed and mocked. I wonder if He cries when men stand behind pulpits and proclaim things that are not true. They speak things that God never said. They misled people. I wonder if God cries when the innocent today is trampled, taken advantage of, and seem to have no voice. I wonder if God cries when people try to hunt down His followers and arrest them today.
I wonder if God cries when you and I don’t think about Him. I wonder if God cries when we turn our backs on Him and embrace sin. I wonder if God cries at our pride and our arrogance.
I wonder if God cries when we cry. We pray with hurting hearts. There are those who have been struggling with health problems and family problems for a long, long time. They are weary. They have prayed and prayed to God. Like that bent over woman in the Gospels, who had her disease for 18 long years, yet there she was on that Saturday in the synagogue. She had not given up on God, even though her prayers had not be answered as she wanted. I wouldn’t be surprised if every evening she cried her self to sleep in pain and in disappointment, with a prayer on her lips. I wonder if God cried along with her. Then there was the woman with the issue of blood. For a dozen years her condition had grown worse. She had been from one doctor to another. She was now out of money, and out of hope. Desperate, scared and embarrassed, she came up behind Jesus to touch Him. Did God cry at her pitiful condition? Did God cry when He saw Jesus’ crying at Lazarus’ grave?
For all of these, I don’t know the answer. My heart and my faith, wants to believe that God is touched and moved by these things. I don’t see God being a cold, nearly emotionless being that feels nothing except anger and wrath. Peter tells us to cast all of our anxiety upon Him because He cares. He cares.
He is not too busy to be bothered. He does not send a subordinate to deal with us. Our worries may be laughable compared to what He sees worldwide, but He has a heart that cares. When showing the disciples how to pray, Jesus began with these ours, “Our Father…” I look at those words and I think about my dear grandfather, standing in the doorway, with tears running down his cheeks, as he looks at his son who is about to go to the other part of the world to fight in a deadly war.
Our Father…Your Father…My Father. God wants the best for you. God wants you to make it spiritually. God may see you going through some tough times, hoping that you’ll lean closer to Him, talk to Him more often and trust Him even more. Our God is good. He loves you.
God saw Jesus crying…I don’t think He said, “Man up.” I doubt He said, “We from Heaven, don’t cry.” No, if anything, God probably had tears in His eyes as well.
God sure loves you.