We don't usually think of Jesus crying. We think of him preaching, healing, serving, leading, and saving. But I'm glad there are three recorded instances in scripture where he cries.
1. The first time (John 11:32-36) is at the death of his dear friend, Lazarus. When Lazarus' grieving sisters came to Jesus and said, "Why didn't you do something?" Jesus wept. He didn't weep because he was powerless to do something, or because Lazarus was gone; He wept because his two friends, Mary and Martha were brokenhearted at their brother's passing.
I'm glad we have a God who grieves at the state of our world. I'm glad He cares. I'm glad He feels our pain and I'm glad He has a plan to redeem it all someday when we get Home. But in the meantime, His tears mean a lot. His tears talk. His tears say, "I'm here, I see, and I care." Could there be anything better to know when the bottom drops out, when life does a 180, when darkness comes upon us like a cold, wet blanket? No other world religion has a God who cries with us. No other deity sobs and heaves over our broken hearts. It's incomprehensible, but too beautiful to not be true. If I were God, I wouldn't write the script that way, but then I don't have the capacity for unconditional, unending empathy and love. He does. In fact, perfect love is His calling card.
2. The second time Jesus cries is when He is overwhelmed by our sins and depravity. (Luke 13:34). He looks down from a hillside and sees the city of Jerusalem in all its beauty and splendor, and then cries because the people in the city are stubbornly independent, bent on living chaotic, unhappy lives. Sound familiar? He says, "I yearn for them to know peace, but their eyes are blinded to the things that matter most." It brought Him to tears. “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace!" He said.
When Jesus sees our sins He sees them past, present, and future. Maybe He cries because we stay in the same ruts far too long. No father likes to see his kids walk the wrong path. The birth of a baby is the beginning of both joy AND sorrow. Joy at their accomplishments; sorrow at their inevitable failures. Joy at their intelligence; sorrow at their naivete. Joy at their desire for meaning, purpose, and character; sorrow at their selfishness, stubbornness, and strong will. It's a never-ending process... this thing called unconditional love, and occasionally, it hurts terribly.
Jesus understands. He understands enough to cry. He has the heart of a dad; a dad who never quits on HIs kids. Aren't you glad?
3. The third time we find Jesus crying in scripture was the night before His crucifixion. It's almost too sacred to talk about, but it's true. I won't pretend to understand how and why He begged God to not let Him die. But I'm glad God said "no." Without the Cross we'd be absolutely, hopelessly lost.
When I forgive someone, it always hurts. It's always depleting, especially when they haven't asked for forgiveness, nor care if I extend it. I've often forgiven people through tears that they've never seen me shed and never will. Only God and I knew the pain. I do it because it's right, and best...but that doesn't make it any less difficult. Forgiveness always costs something.
I can't imagine forgiving the whole world. I can't imagine dying in the place of someone who molests children, or traffics young girls, or murders someone I love. All I know for sure... is that Jesus understands. Before He went to the cross, He cried. That tells me that He gets it. That tells me that no one ever has, nor will, love me more. You too.
I've felt like crying several times today as I've viewed the images of the devastation left by the tornadoes across our state. And I suppose I feel like crying a lot more often than I even realize, week after week, month after month, year after year.
So I'm thinking tonight about God crying. And I don't know about you, but I'm glad He does. Something deep inside me would like to give Him a hug and say, "It's going to be okay." I love Him so.