When I was growing up, our culture taught that “grown men don’t cry.” I say, “culture” because I can’t recall my parents ever expecting such behavior. Supposedly, crying wasn’t manly. It conveyed weakness. And those who couldn’t hold back the tears were called Sissies and Mama’s Boys.
Generally, I ascribed to that macho mantra. That is, until I became a father. When I saw my boy singing in the kindergarten chorus, try though I may, I couldn’t choke back the tears.
Tears are an outward sign of inner turmoil caused by grief, deep compassion, disappointment, overwhelming stress, or hurt. Naturally, physical pain and suffering can also be a cause. Then there are those wonderful tears of joy shed when something amazing happens; holding your child in your arms for the first time, winning against all odds, deliverance by God from an enormous burden, etc.
Weeping is no respecter of gender. It is human, which is the point of our focus text. Jesus’ tears revealed His humanity and His heartfelt compassion for His friends Mary and Martha who were grieving over the death of their brother, Lazarus.
We naturally connect with our loved ones who are overwrought with grief. You know that old expression, “I feel your pain.” Jesus had compassion for the pain of his friends.
Some Biblical scholars have questioned Jesus’ reason for weeping. After all, He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead. But this great miracle is an amazing testimony to the truth that Jesus is both fully man and fully God. His compassion for His friends showed His humanity. Raising Lazarus from the grave revealed His divinity.
In times of personal crisis, have you ever wept as you lifted your concerns to God in prayer? When I learned of my wife’s cancer diagnosis, I left work and parked in an isolated section of a parking lot. There I poured out my heart to the Lord. My weeping was so intense that my words were unintelligible. At the end of that prayer, I was overcome with what can only be described as the peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7) In that moment, I knew she would be okay.
I love the old King James version of James 5:16. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Nothing could be more fervent than prayer offered with tears.
The ordeal of the cross weighed heavily upon Jesus’ mind. Every step He took in His earthly ministry took Him closer to the cruelest execution ever designed by man. And when He spoke to the Father about His impending doom, Jesus wept as He prayed. Hebrews 5:7 puts it this way. “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death…”
In Luke 19:41, we’re presented with another occasion when Jesus wept. “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.” He agonized over the fate of the city He loved and His people who rejected Him and His message.
We often picture Jesus as happily going about His ministry while healing the sick, performing miracles, and proclaiming His gospel. And certainly that was the product of His ministry. But scripture gives us another picture of the man who was born to die.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Isaiah 53:3
Jesus wept because He cared. He shed tears over those who refused His message and rejected His gift of redemption and salvation. He cried for us — because He loves us.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Your Thorn of Trouble that Won’t Go Away
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.