by Stan Smith
When I was a youngster in church activities, I was caught up in the competition. You know. We had "Bible drills" -- who could turn the fastest to a Bible verse. We had contests to see who could recite the books of the Bible the fastest. We had Bible memorization contests. Now, in these contests you were credited with "numbers of verses" or "numbers of chapters". So we learned tricks. If you had to memorize a chapter, volunteer to memorize Psalm 117. Two verses. Done! And our favorite Bible verse to memorize was John 11:35. "Jesus wept." Done!
To tell the truth, beyond it's memorization advantage, the verse has always been somewhat of an enigma. Why did Jesus weep? I mean, look, the text says, "So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was" (John 11:6). He purposely delayed. And the text says that Jesus knew what He was going to do -- bring back a dead man from the grave (John 11:11,23). It's not as if He was saddened by the death of Lazarus because He knew it was temporary. And still, when He saw Mary weeping and the Jews weeping, "He was deeply moved in His spirit" (John 11:33). Twice (John 11:38). Why?
This isn't the only place that Jesus wept. In the Gospel of Luke we read, "And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it" (Luke 19:41). Why? Was Jesus surprised by their lack of faith? Was He hoping that all Jerusalem would be saved and, too bad, couldn't accomplish it? Was God's Sovereign Will failing? Were His plans frustrated? No. Then why was He weeping?
Jesus wept because Jesus was a man. You know ... "fully God" and "fully Man". He experienced the sadness of those around Him. He saw the tears of those He loved and wept with those who wept. He understood the sad fact that most of Jerusalem -- the Jews, His people -- would not be saved and He wept. He raised Lazarus as proof of His divinity. He wept as proof of His humanity.
Beyond that Jesus wept for humanity. He felt their pain. He understood their hurt. He even anticipated the future torment of those who rejected Him. He was fully God, but connected emotionally with the humans of which He was part.
I don't know about you, but knowing that my Savior feels my pain is of great comfort. A God who couldn't appreciate my pain even though He is Sovereign, Loving, and Good wouldn't be really connected to me. He is. He calls for repentance and weeps for my tears. He plans for my suffering for my gain and feels my pain. He was tempted -- tried -- like we are. This is not a God like any other religion's God. This one was the God/Man, the one who, amidst His own Sovereignty, could also feel my hurt and empathize. A truly good God.
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I'm married with four grown children and (currently) four grandchildren. My wife and I live in sunny Phoenix by choice. I hope to encourage people with my words and to share with others what God has shared with me.
For more writings you can see my blog at birdsoftheair.blogspot.com.
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