Friday, May 30, 2008

Do we cry like Jesus?

Wednesday night our pastor, Devin, addressed an issue that to be honest, I had never given much thought. As part of a series on "walking as Jesus walked," he taught us about the times in Scripture where Jesus cried. Now, of course I knew about these passages, and have heard many sermons about them, have read them, and have even thought about them. But I don't think I've ever really considered their application to my life. I always just thought that they showed a human, emotional side to Jesus; that they portray His humanity and deep sensitivity. Devin discussed them from this angle, too, but at the end he applied them to us as Christians. That's the part that really has me thinking over the last two days.

In our society we are taught that real men don't cry, at least not in public, but that isn't the picture we see of Jesus in the Bible. Let us see:

John 11:35 Jesus wept.
This happened in Bethany outside Lazarus' tomb, when Jesus saw the grief of Lazarus' family and friends.

Luke 19:41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it...
Jesus knew the destruction that would take place not too long after this, when the Romans would come in and literally tear the city down. He knew the fate of the people, and even though they had rejected Him, He wept for them.

Hebrews 5:7-8 ...who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
This is a description of Jesus when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before He was Crucified. We know that He was in such agony that He sweated drops of blood in addition to shedding many tears. He was in a deep emotional state as He looked ahead to the suffering He would endure.

We therefore see Jesus shedding tears in three different situations which I would sum up:
1. Compassion for others' grief and grief of His own over death and its hold on man
2. Sorrow for the lost, who face destruction both physical and spiritual
3. Deep personal anguish and suffering

Applying these to our lives, then, is simple yet intensely profound. Do we cry with and for others when they are hurting? REALLY cry over their sorrow? Not just tell them we love them and will pray for them but sit down with them and cry? Do we shed tears for the lost? Are we moved to such deep feeling for sinners that we weep for them and for the destruction they surely face? Do we cry out to God with "vehement cries and tears" when we are suffering greatly?

Perhaps I'm wrong about this, but I think many of us have become hardened and jaded in this area of our lives. We think that crying is a sign of weakness, or we don't want to be seen as emotional basket cases. I'm not advocating that we spend all our time crying and wailing, or that every Sunday be a huge emotional experience where we go to the altar and sob. After all, we are only told of a few times that Jesus wept. But I admit that I have tried NOT to cry over the last year, maybe because I fear that if I begin crying, the tears will go on for too long a time. Oh, there have been a few times I've cried--one night in choir the words of a song we were singing brought me to tears...("Sometimes we wait, simply to find, sometimes the answers come with time...there is a place where we rest in His grace, when sometimes we wait on the Lord.") I've been moist-eyed a few times in church, here and there. Usually I just try to get it under control as quickly as possible. But now I'm thinking--would it be cathartic to cry before the Lord with "vehement cries and tears"? How long has it been since I truly wept for the lost? How long since I had "a good cry"?

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