Triumph and TearsLuke 19:41-44Theme: Grief.This week’s lessons encourage us to follow Christ’s example in weeping for the lost. LessonThere are many things in Scripture that testify to Jesus’s true humanity. He was born of the Virgin Mary. He grew hungry. There were times when he thirsted, as at Jacob’s well when he encountered the woman of Samaria, and on the cross when he said, “I thirst.” Yet there is perhaps nothing that so testifies to Jesus’ humanity as his grief on this occasion. We might be tempted to think that Jesus was above human passions. After all, he was the Son of God. He knew that all things work out well according to the counsel of God, that God is never frustrated, and that salvation is of God. So how could he grieve?
Yet here is Jesus as a true man grieving over Jerusalem. The fact of his tears tells us something else about him, something more than the fact that he was truly human and, therefore, one with whom we can identify. His tears tell us that he was a man of the most tender sympathies. It wasn’t just that he wept, but that he was greatly moved at the distress of the people and the judgment that he saw coming.
First of all, he knew what they would do to him and yet he grieved over them. He knew what they would do. He knew that they would mistreat him. He knew that his visage would be marred, so great would be the beating he received. And yet in spite of all those things, he wept over the city. Second, he knew that the judgment they would receive was just, and yet he grieved over the city. They had rejected the truth about him because they had been content with their sin rather than with him and the Gospel. Judgment was coming and God would destroy the city, working through the hands of the Romans. Jesus could easily have said, “All that’s coming to them is what they deserve.” Yet in spite of that – in spite of the fact that the coming judgment was just – our Lord grieved. Jesus knew that his tears would not be understood.
Jesus had also wept at the tomb of Lazarus. There he was grieving for the unbelief of the people, grieving for the effects of sin, which bring death. The people who stood by and saw him weeping did not say, “Look how he identifies with us in our sinful, fallen humanity,” but rather, “Ah, isn’t it a shame that he’s so helpless on this occasion, because he who raised other people from the dead is not able to raise Lazarus, his friend.” They misunderstood the tears on that occasion, and presumably they misunderstood Christ’s tears on this occasion too.
I think, as they entered Jerusalem, the disciples must have been puzzled also. Here they were rejoicing. Here was their Lord weeping. They must have said, “Whatever plagues our Master? If there was ever an occasion when our Lord should be rejoicing, it is now. Here is the thing we’ve been working for. Jesus is coming into his city. He’s going to be acclaimed king. This is what we want. It’s now, and yet he’s weeping!” They did not understand. And Jesus knew they would not understand. And yet he wept for the city.
Now, let me hold that picture before you: Jesus the King, Jesus the Savior, Jesus the Lord, weeping over a city that had rejected him and was about to crucify him. Now that is a Savior to whom you can turn no matter who you are, or no matter what you have done. You look into your heart and say, “Oh, I have done terrible things. How can this one who is the holy Son of God possibly receive me?” Or you say, “Well, it’s not so much that I’ve done terrible things, but I’ve been indifferent to his call. Here even on an occasion like this I hear Jesus proclaimed as the loving, holy Savior and I find myself unmoved. Somehow this just doesn’t touch me where I am.” Whatever it is that has kept you from Christ, isn’t there something in this picture of him, weeping, that can move you and draw you to him? If Jesus would weep over a city like Jerusalem – if Jesus would weep over men and women who were about to call for his crucifixion – doesn’t he weep over you and the hardness of your heart? Since Jesus would have drawn them to himself on that occasion were it not for their stubbornness, will he not receive you if you come to him?
What indicators from Scripture point to Jesus’ true humanity?
What caused Jesus’ distress?
Why had the people rejected Jesus?
What do Jesus’ tears show about his feelings for you?
Further StudyRead the story of the death of Lazarus in John 11:1-44. Write down all the personal characteristics of Jesus that you observe in the narrative.