Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” John 11:30-36
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.” Luke 19:41
Dear Friends and Family:
We have begun the season of Lent–a time for reflection, repentance and renewal. It is a time for fasting and, even, feasting. It is a time to prepare your heart and home for the Cross, the crucifixion, and the empty tomb. Lent is a call to be filled with the Holy Spirit wisdom and guidance. Didn’t we just prepare our hearts and our homes for Advent and Christmas? And here we are again–preparing those very same hearts and homes for Lent and Easter.
Lent is the 40 Days (without Sundays) leading up to Easter. Easter is April 12th. Lent does not count Sundays; we have six days to fast with Sunday to feast. The 40 Days is symbolic: Noah had rain, day and night, for 40 Days, Moses was on Mount Horeb receiving the 10 Commandments for 40 Days, for 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, Jonah gave the people of Nineveh 40 Days to repent and Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted after He was baptized.
This past week, I took the red-eye flight to Florida so I could be with my wife and her dad as we walked “Mom” to the gates of Heaven to meet Jesus. To say the least, there were a lot of tears over the past few weeks. My mom, aka Mother-in-love, was 86 and she loved the Lord. I have known my mother-in-love for over 40 years. She has been like a mom to me, since my mom died twenty years ago. As I was flying back home, I journal-ed on John chapter 11. I will spare you all of my notes and reflections, but, if you have never read this chapter, I encourage you to take a moment and read of Lazarus’ death and resurrection.
I want like to reflect on two little words and on one of the shortest passages in the Bible: JESUS WEPT! Two little words, three syllables. But, oh, how these two little words speak volumes.
There are two passages in Bible that speak of Jesus our Lord actually weeping. What is truly amazing is that both of them take place on the Mount of Olives opposite Jerusalem. On the eastern slope of the mountain, in the small village of Bethany where we find Jesus weeping over the grave of Lazarus (John 11:35). On the western slope of the mountain, we find Him on Palm Sunday weeping over the sins of the people. (Luke 19:41).
I have to tell you that a “so what?” question comes to my mind right now: I wonder if Jesus is still weeping today. (I’m pretty sure He is still weeping today. What do you think?)
I’ve studied this passage a lot. These two little words pack a powerful punch in the Bible. I have to be honest and say that I don’t think that Jesus wept because Lazarus was dead. Jesus is all knowing. He knew that in a moment He would raise His best friend, Lazarus, from the dead. But I do believe that Jesus wept when He saw and heard Lazarus’s sisters crying. Mary and Martha were heart broken. And they were crying. Tears touch the heart of our God. The sisters’ hearts were broken. Their brother was dead, and Jesus had arrived too late. They held no hope. They were hurting, weeping with deep sobs and wails. When Jesus saw this sight, He wept.
My wife’s mom had fallen on Sunday, January 19th, and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Jac and I had been worried about her parents prior to this and I had already booked a flight for Tuesday. I arrived and went to see Mom. She was in ICU and she was really hurting. Dehydration, lack of electrolytes, kidney failure and a 3x4″ tumor in her lung. I stayed the week, bringing Dad to see his wife of almost 70 years in the hospital. The hospital was 20 miles away–too far for Dad, 88, to travel alone. We found mom a local rehab in The Villages. I returned home knowing that my wife had to go see her mom. With Jac’s lead poisoning, she is allergic to an enzyme in jet fuel. She hasn’t flown in 4 years because going into anaphylaxis at 30,000 feet was just too scary for her. We talked and prayed about whether we should drive from California to Florida or if she should brave flying. Friends in our church bought Jac a mask that has a respirator on it. Jac did a great job of wearing it at the airport and for the first two hours of her flight! (She said it was kind of fun to explain through her mask to the others that she’s allergic to jet fuel!)
Jac met her little sis at the airport and off they went to The Villages. Mom was safely at the rehab now and the two sisters did all they could to make Mom happy while carting Dad to and from rehab. It broke down to 6 days in ICU, 12 at the rehab, and 20 days at home. On February 25th at noon, Mom made heaven her permanent dwelling place. Jac was alone with both of her parents for the final 12 days of Mom’s life. Mom was on Hospice and Jac could not leave her. As Jac would report daily to me, it became clear that Mom was not going beat cancer for the third time, ovarian at 51 and breast at 71. I decided Jac needed relief and flew out again on Saturday night, leaving our daughter to preach for me. I flew all night and walked in at 7 a.m. Mom had struggled to breathe all night and Jac was so weary from staying up and trying to get Mom help. A day and a half later, Mom’s heart gave out. So many tears were cried during this past month, and continue to this day. Here is the main point of today’s SEED OF FAITH:
We have a God who weeps WITH us!
The God who created the universe and everything it is touched by our hurts and broken hearts. Tears have a language all their own. Tears speak louder than words. Tears really do not need someone to interpret or translate them.. The psalmist says that God keeps our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). Can you only imagine that God collects all your tears.
In Luke 19, Jesus entered Jerusalem with cheers and shouts of Hosanna, Hosanna! But before Jesus entered the town of Jerusalem, Jesus stopped to weep over the city and the people of Jerusalem. “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.'” Luke 19:41-42
What I found interesting is that the word that Luke uses for “wept” in Greek has a different meaning. It means to wail, and cry out. This kind of weeping is the kind that shakes your shoulders and comes from the bottom of your gut. You cry with big sobs and tears. Jesus was weeping uncontrollably for the people of Jerusalem because they did not know and did not receive Jesus as their Messiah. I was taken by Luke’s words — “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace …” Do you know the ONE who will bring you peace?
Remember this: We have a God who weeps WITH US AND FOR US!
I don’t know what you are facing. I don’t know what is troubling you. I don’t know know where you have been hurt, rejected, abandoned, mistreated, misjudged, misunderstood and defeated. But I do know the One who weeps with you and weeps for you. The Lord Jesus is touched by our broken hearts and troubled by our blinded eyes.
The last time tears are mentioned in the Bible is in Revelation 21. Chapter 21 is the second to last chapter in the Bible. I encourage you to go and read at least the first seven verses. This chapter reveals a beautiful scene in heaven: “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 21:4) As my mother-in-love was dying, I sat at her bedside during the nights and read Scripture to her. Chapter 21 of Revelation was one of those comforting passages. No more tears — no more pain, no more suffering — no more death.
This is our hope. He is preserving all of our tears in a bottle, and one day He will wipe them all away. King David said it best, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
The Lord Jesus is not far off and removed from us. Jesus is very near. He is the One who is touched by our broken hearts and weeps WITH us. Jesus is the One who is troubled by our blinded eyes and weeps FOR us.
This season of Lent, let these tears prepare your heart and home for the joy of the resurrection! These two little words speak volumes: “Jesus wept.” It is okay to cry. Jesus weeps with us! Jesus weeps for us!
Earlier in the week, Mom had been asking my wife for the verse on the sting of death. At noon on 2-25, I turned to 1 Corinthians 15:55 and read, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” At that very second, the most glorious smile came across Mom’s face. She lifted up her face, and she was gone. Perfect peace in Jesus replaced all of mom’s tears.
He will do the same for each of us. My prayer is that this Lent will find you preparing your heart and your home…for a God who weeps with you and for you and who, one day, will hold all of your tears in a bottle.
See you Sunday!
God loves you and so do I,