Why do we weep? Weeping is not just crying. Crying is something we might do if we drop something on our foot, or if we are terribly afraid. Weeping is something different from that. According to the Random House Dictionary, “weep” has a couple of meanings that pertain to people and emotion:
• to express grief, sorrow, or any overpowering emotion by shedding tears; shed tears; cry: to weep for joy, to weep with rage.
• to weep for (someone or something); mourn with tears or other expression of sorrow
• to shed (tears); pour forth in weeping: to weep tears of gratitude.
So we might weep for sorrow or joy or rage or gratitude. I know why I have wept: on February 2nd, 2008, my newly wed wife Pam died very suddenly and unexpectedly. It was horrifying and disheartening, and I wept for losing her. Even as I tried to rouse her, to breathe into her and start her heart, I wept and cried out to God. I wept in rage and fear and sorrow. Mine was nonetheless a silent weeping, because I did not want to scare the children. And so behind the rush to call paramedics and keep the children out of the way, I wept. Behind the very business-like way I coordinated things and explained to the police officer the details of how I found her and what I did, I wept. While trusting that God is sovereign, that His will is perfect, and that I would one day understand it all, I wept. As we laid her body to rest in sub-zero weather a week later, surrounded by close family and friends, I wept.
In the Greek, John 11:35 says “εδακρυσεν ο ιησουσ”–“Edakrusen o Iesous.” “Jesus shed tears.” Strong’s Concordance makes a point of distinguishing between “dakruo” and “klaio,” another verb that is translated as “weep,” saying that the verb “dakruo” here in verse 35 pertains to shedding tears quietly, whereas “klaio” denotes crying out, a loud mourning.
The Lamb of God wept. In the midst of coming to perform His greatest miracle, the event that confirms that the coming resurrection is real, our Savior shed tears. As He walked to the tomb of His beloved friend Lazarus, this Christ–who is Himself the Resurrection and the Life–wept.
When Jerome translated the Greek and Hebrew of the Bible into Latin a few centuries after Christ, he wrote this verse like this:
“et lacrimatus est Iesus”
And Jesus wept.
From the context of chapter 11 of John’s Gospel, it would seem that Jesus wept for sorrow, that He was mourning something. All around Him were people weeping.
33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus wept.
36. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
Jesus wept in sympathy with His friends Mary and Martha, because He had loved Lazarus as a friend and brother. He wept for the Jews who did not yet understand that He was their appointed Messiah. He wept for Jerusalem, the city where God Himself had dwelt for a time in His holy temple. He wept for unbelief. He wept for belief. He wept for joy at the moment that was to come when He would demonstrate God’s enormous love and grace. He wept for sorrow that He Himself must die to truly bring God’s forgiveness and peace to mankind.
The Son of God shed tears for the lost, the unrepentant, the proud, the oppressed, the broken, the lonely, the fearful. Emmanuel–God With Us–wept for friends and enemies, for those who knew Him and those who did not.
The author and finisher of our faith wept for those who were yet to come, who would all be sinners, and who would all be forgiven through Him.
He who soon would send His Spirit into the world as our Comforter and Helper, He wept for the comfort of those standing nearby. He wept to let them know that God cares, that the Father feels the sorrow of His children just as much as they do. He shared the tears of Mary and Martha even as He shed tears of His own.
I weep. Although I have since remarried and I know one day we who believe shall be resurrected in His name, now and again I miss my late wife and I do not understand why she left us as she did. Along with Mary and Martha, I say to my Lord, “If You had been here, she would not have died.” But even as I say it, I know it is a lie. It is a lie because we are all bound to die in this life. We must die to this life to live in Christ. It is a lie because He has ALWAYS been here, He never left my side.
Mourn with me today, if you must. Weep. Jesus wept. Join with Jesus as He wept for the world, as He wept for the City of David, as He wept for Lazarus, as He wept for the Cross He would soon bear to Calvary.
And when we are finished weeping, join me in rejoicing. Let us rejoice in the Resurrection and the Life. Let us rejoice in the mercy of God. Let us rejoice in the forgiveness we once never thought we’d see. Let us weep and mourn and grieve so that our rejoicing is that much sweeter when we see our Lord coming on clouds of glory. Jesus wept.
3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Lord God, Father of our Savior, Creator of the heavens and the earth, I weep today for those who have passed away before me. I weep because I miss their presence, and I weep because I am lonely. But I am never alone, and although today I weep, I yet rejoice. I rejoice in Your grace, O Lord, and I find joy in You. You are my strength and my song. And although my voice quavers with my weeping, still I raise my voice to You and sing “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!” Amen.
© 2014 Glenn A. Pettit