Snapshots of Grief: Jesus Wept

Often when we think of our Savior showing emotion, we think of the oft quoted John 11:35 (“Jesus wept.”) or His throwing over the money changers’ tables in the Temple. We tend to overlook what most broke His heart. And what was that?

Sin. The lostness of humanity.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look briefly at another famous moment in Christ’s life that tends to completely outshine the moments immediately surrounding it. Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem is one of those famous moments that someone with even a little bit of Bible knowledge knows something about. We still celebrate it today, referring to it as Palm Sunday because of the palm branches that were laid before Jesus as He entered the city on the back of an untried donkey colt. And in that one sentence, I have summarized most of the details we talk about regularly.

This is one of the few events in Jesus’ life which all four Gospel writers saw fit to chronicle. I’m going to focus in, though, on Luke. You’ll find the story in chapter 19. An interesting thing happens that I want us to understand, a profound grief overcomes Jesus for the sake of Jerusalem. The Pharisees rebuke Jesus for His entry in such a manner, and as He approaches the city we find not that He is smiling and passing off the rebuke. Instead, He weeps.

Oh yes, Jesus wept at the graveside of His friend. I won’t dig into that in depth, but I would like to point out that whether He was grieved for Lazarus’ death or not, we can be certain that the blindness of the Jews was the far deeper grief. And we see it again here, at the very moment we call “triumphant,” Jesus is not a proud man drinking in the praise of others. He is hurting.

Jesus didn’t need their acceptance. He would be glorified and perfectly accepted within the Trinity whether the Jews wanted Him or not. But He wanted them to open their eyes and see who He was: their promised one! They had been crying out for the coming of the Messiah for a long time, but they kept seeing their oppressors as the nations which conquered them, not the sin which was the ultimate cause of their needing to be conquered in the first place.

Friends, please hear me. The losses we experience in our lives are painful. They stick with us. They bring us to tears. But they would not be so were it not for the sin which oppresses us, the curse which was inflicted upon our world when we chose to go our own way instead of following God’s laws. We groan for the day we will experience the full impact of our redemption; our spirits long for it. And we should be as broken as Christ for the lostness of those around us. Though we ache when we lose someone, we still have hope. We are not abandoned. We are not forsaken. But those who have not put their faith in Christ, they are not able to claim any real hope. Just wishes and platitudes. That’s all they have.

You and I know that wishes and platitude offer no real comfort in the midst of grief. In fact, they tend to make us angry and frustrated. So imagine going through life with nothing more to cling to than those things. Our pain is temporary and light; ever so real, ever so difficult. But we KNOW we have heaven to look forward to, glory beyond compare, eternity. The pain of loss is of no comparison to the pain of a Christless eternity.

So weep. Weep when the impact of sin is felt in death and the pain of the curse. But weep more for those who have no hope of a future without that pain. And then do something about it. You don’t have to be silent. You shouldn’t be silent. Nor should I. We have the remedy. And it’s far better than any drug we could offer to mitigate the symptoms of grief.