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Vol.  9  No. 12 December 2007  Page 14
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Jerry BatesWhat Makes God Cry?

By Jerry Bates

    We are all familiar with death. We are all too familiar with the sadness and grief associated with the loss of a dear loved one in this life. We must never forget that God is concerned with our sorrow. In John 11:35, we find the shortest verse in the Bible, which simply says, “Jesus wept.” This is a short verse with much meaning. This one verse shows the humanity of Jesus in such a tender way. Jesus as God in the flesh is deeply touched by the sorrow he sees exhibited by Mary and Martha in the loss of their beloved brother Lazarus. Sometimes, we wonder why Jesus is weeping when He knows that Lazarus will live again very shortly. Most likely, He is weeping out of a sympathetic heart for the sadness He sees in the hearts of His dear friends. This is in contrast to the pagan conception of gods, who are not touched with the feelings and infirmities of man. Their gods may weep for themselves, but in their legends, they neither weep for man nor do they sympathize with man. This verse should clearly remind us that God is still there for us even in the greatest of tragedies.

    I believe that a more important point needs to be made along this line. We normally think that the greatest loss and the greatest grief that can be experienced by man is the loss of a loved one due to death. I agree that indeed, it is a deep loss, and it is right and proper that we mourn and weep over the death of a loved one. While we see Jesus weeping over the death of Lazarus, this is not the strongest kind of weeping. In the Greek, the word translated “wept” in John 11:35 means to shed tears or to weep silently. Thus, we see that while Jesus was certainly weeping, it was not the loud wailing that we often associate with death.

    There is a stronger word for weeping that means to sob or weep aloud. This is the strongest word for weeping in the Greek language and is used only one time regarding to our Lord. It is found in Luke 19:41, “Now as he drew near, He saw the city and wept over it.” On this occasion, Jesus was descending from the Mount of Olives from which there is a magnificent view of the whole city of Jerusalem. Jesus knew what was going to happen to the city, but He also knew that it was unnecessary. The citizens of Jerusalem could have been saved if they had only turned to Jesus and God, but they refused. Even while Jesus was speaking these words, the Jewish leaders were looking for a way to kill Jesus while not arousing the anger of the people. As the commentator William Barclay aptly wrote, “The tears of Jesus are the tears of God when He sees the needless pain and suffering in which men involve themselves through their foolish rebellion against His will.” The significant point of this is that while God is concerned with any grief of His people, it seems that God is most deeply grieved for the spiritual loss and the needless suffering of His people.

    I especially appreciate the picturesque language used in Matthew’s account of this occasion. Matthew wrote in 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” There used to be a TV commercial depicting a Native American Indian sitting on a horse looking over a polluted world. Tears were streaming down his face as he viewed the horrible scene. I imagine a similar scene in this passage in Matthew. You can see the tears in Jesus’ eyes and hear the pain in His voice as He utters these words and views the sinful and spiritually polluted city of Jerusalem.

    The greatest loss of man is not physical death or destruction, but the loss of our souls. God sent His Son to prevent that, but far too often men today are just like the people of Jerusalem in the long ago. They could be saved, but they are not willing. We greatly grieve over the loss of a family member or material possessions, but we seem to care little over the possible loss of our souls. That is a loss, which undoubtedly grieves God beyond our comprehension, and to make the loss even sadder is the fact that it is all unnecessary. It does not have to happen! It can all be avoided if man will simply turn to Jesus and His word. Will you not decide to obey Jesus today?

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