Triumph and TearsLuke 19:41-44Theme: Grief.This week’s lessons encourage us to follow Christ’s example in weeping for the lost. LessonSome years ago at the first of the World Congresses on Evangelism held in Berlin, Germany, I heard an associate evangelist for the Billy Graham team tell a story. His name was Fernando Vangioni. He had been conducting an evangelistic campaign in a large city in South America, and after the close of one of the meetings, he had gone to the back of the church to talk to people. A woman approached him there with a story.
She told him the story of a young girl in hopes that Vangioni would take time to speak to her. This girl had gone to New York City a number of years ago, because she thought New York would be a place of great opportunity for her, but instead it turned into a tragic experience. She fell in with a man who used her badly, and after that she was passed on to another and another. She suffered greatly during those years. Now she had returned home, but had become very bitter, and above all, bitter about God. The woman had sought to tell the girl about Jesus, but the girl would not listen. Finally, however, the girl had agreed to come to the evangelistic meeting on the following evening.
Vangioni agreed to speak with the girl the next night. The next evening came, and as Mr. Vangioni stood in the pulpit, he could see the girl sitting in the back. When the service ended the woman came up and introduced her young friend. He began to talk to her about Jesus and Jesus’ love for her.
She was hostile and hard. She said, “Don’t preach to me.”
He said, “Well, do you mind then if I pray for you?”
She said, “You can pray all you like. I don’t have to listen.”
They began to pray. Vangioni recounted that as he prayed, there was something about the tragedy of the girl’s life that touched his own heart. To have one so young experience so much and become so hard just moved him. As he prayed, tears began to run down his cheeks. And eventually he couldn’t pray anymore. He just had to stop and collect himself.
Then he said to the girl, “Well, you can go now.”
She said to him, “No, I won’t go. You can preach to me now. No man has ever cried for me before.”
I think that is something that Jesus Christ would understand, something that he would eminently approve. Suffering, dying, ignorant humanity on the way to destruction, and we, who profess the name of Christ ourselves remain so unmoved. The day is coming when there is going to be a new Jerusalem, not the Jerusalem destroyed by the Romans under Titus for which Christ wept, but the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven made by God. In that day there will be no weeping. We are told explicitly in Revelation that there will be no tears in that city, no crying, no weeping, because all tears will be wiped away. On that day, if you have not wept for the lost, you have forever lost an opportunity to identify in this respect with your Lord. The time for weeping is now. The time for compassion is now. Shouldn’t this great example of Jesus move us? Should it not literally impel us toward those who are perishing for lack of faith in Christ? As for you, if you have not believed in Christ, shouldn’t the tears of Jesus draw you to him?
What softened the heart of the troubled young girl for whom Fernando Vangioni prayed?
Based on what we read in today’s lesson, how can we identify ourselves with Jesus?
Further StudyStudy what Revelation 21 reveals about the forthcoming Jerusalem. What will be true about sorrow and tears in that new city?
PrayerDo you weep for the lost, or is your heart relatively unmoved? Ask God to cultivate compassion for the unsaved within your heart.