The shortest verse in the Bible is only two words, but it speaks volumes. The first word being the Sovereign Saving Grace of God Himself, followed by the second word – almost unfathomable:
That is it. But, think about the power and the truth contained in these two words. The God of the Universe – the Creator and Sustainer of life – wept. He cried. He opened His heart and allowed His emotions to overflow.
Now, the context of this moment happens at a funeral for one of Jesus’ best friends, Lazarus. Jesus heard he was sick, but waited before going to him, because Jesus knew what He was going to do. He planned to do a miracle. He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. This would be the last big miracle before Jesus would be arrested and ultimately crucified for our sins. He knew what He was about to do – and the message He would send would be very clear – so then why did He cry?
When Jesus arrived, He was greeted by Lazarus’ two sisters, Mary and Martha. He loved this family. I believe, when Jesus saw their hurt and pain, He was moved to tears. The emotion of the pain they felt welled up inside of Him. He did not weep for Lazarus or His own grief, but for those in mourning as He watched them go through this difficult time. Jesus loves completely. When He sees the hurt and pain caused by the brokenness of this world, He is moved to tears.
Throughout Scripture, great men of God have also wept:
- David wept over the sin and brokenness in his own heart and life.
- Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet.” Clearly, he cried a lot.
- Nehemiah wept when he heard the walls of his beloved Jerusalem were broken down, he poured out his heart to God.
- Paul wept on multiple occasions as he prayed for the churches that God had called him to plant. He loved them so much.
When you truly love, there will be times you are moved to tears. Sometimes, the tears come as you see people trying to satisfy their own lives without God. Sometimes, you cry because you know what God can do in the lives of those you love – if they will only let Him. Sometimes, you cry because you see people hurting in this fallen world. The truth is, if you truly love, then at some point you will cry.
In a society where “real men” and “big girls” don’t cry, the Bible paints a different picture. God created tears for a reason. Our spiritual heroes were ones who loved God and loved others so much that they were willing to allow their hearts to be moved. If you are a parent, you know this kind of love. Sometimes my eyes will well up as I watch one of my children sleep. I love them so deeply. May our hearts never grow so hard that we lose the love that moves us to tears. May we never grow so callous to our own need or to the hurt in this world that we fail to radically love like Jesus.
One of my favorite Jewish practices happens in times of mourning. In the passing of a loved one, friends of the family will show up and just sit. No one talks, they just cry together. This can go on for days or even weeks. Nobody has to worry about saying the wrong thing because they are called to just be there: “Weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15
This is the Power of Presence. Jesus was there. Jesus loved his friends so deeply that being with them in that moment moved him to tears. Jeremiah loved God’s people, the Israelites, so much that he wept. Nehemiah loved God’s city, Jerusalem. The apostle Paul loved God’s church. And, what about you and me? Who do we love, and how do we express it? Never lose the love and passion for the things of God.
When was the last time you cried? When was the last time you had your emotions moved in such a powerful way that the only thing you could do was to allow tears to flow? Let’s love God and others so deeply that we are impacted emotionally (just like Jesus). Do not let your heart grow hard. Practice the power of Presence with your spouse, your kids, your friends, people at church and even those you are praying for, even if you don’t know them. Don’t be so callous to God transforming lives that you don’t shed a tear at a baptism, wedding or funeral. These are holy moments – moments when the Divine is present in love – and this is worth our response.
Jesus wept. And, at times, so should we.