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Jesus Cried for You

April 29, 2022

-by Dr. J. Vernon McGee, from "The God Who Weeps: Discover the Love and Compassion of Jesus Christ"

Scripture says God laughs; Scripture also says God weeps. The Gospel writers record three times the Lord Jesus Christ wept, tears revealing the heart of God. God in tears? That’s a thought to ponder. It’s indeed startling. Let’s look at these three occasions in His ministry when Jesus wept.

Tears of Sympathy

The first time Scripture records Jesus crying is illustrated in the briefest verse in the Bible. You likely already know it. It’s so familiar that it may have lost its impact. May I say to you that it is a somber verse, a solemn verse, a wonderful verse:

Jesus wept. -John 11:35

It happened on the way to the grave of Lazarus. Friends of the family were mourning with Lazarus’ two sisters, Mary and Martha, who were weeping. When our Lord joined them, He wept. His tears covered His cheeks, and His body shook with emotion.

He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, nevertheless Jesus wept in sympathy—sympathy for those He loved, because death had intruded into the family circle.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. -Romans 5:12

Although death is the bitter fruit of sin, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t sympathize. Jesus’ tears reveal how God feels at a funeral. Never has there been a coffin with a lifeless form in it, never has there been an open grave, but there stands an unseen Mourner who is the Lord Jesus Christ.

We sometimes hear it said that Christians ought not to weep over death. But Scripture tells us we are to weep with hope. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:13.) The child of God has a blessed hope. We shed tears in view of that hope, knowing someday we will be reunited with our loved ones. May I say to you, God sympathizes at the time of death. The Lord Jesus took upon Himself human flesh to let you and me know that God sympathizes. He shed genuine tears of sympathy to let us know how God feels. I never have stood at an open casket without that thought in mind.

Tears of Sorrow

In the Gospel of Luke we see another time Jesus cried. Luke 19:41 says, “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it.”

The background to this scene is actually the so-called Triumphal Entry. Jesus had spent the night in Bethany, and then He came around the hill that Sunday morning. As He did, the city broke into view and Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Luke’s language here is very strong. Literally, it says He wailed! I think if you had been in the neighborhood, you would have heard Him. He was heartbroken over the city that would reject and crucify Him.

He was weeping because of the severity of judgment that was coming on that city. This time His tears are the tears of sorrow—sorrow because of the agonizing suffering those in Jerusalem would experience at the time of their judgment. We have only to follow history a few years, to 70 ad, to see why He wept. Roman soldiers, under the command of Titus, utterly destroyed that city.

No wonder Jesus wept. Oh, my friend, Jesus shed His blood to make your salvation possible. He sheds His tears when you reject Him. He weeps because it is not His will that any should perish. Oh, how wonderful He is!

Tears of Suffering

Now, the third and last incident was in the Garden of Gethsemane. (See Hebrews 5:7.) Our Lord prayed there, and He also cried there. His cries pierced the night air like the cry of a wounded animal.

Jesus prayed to be saved out of death, that is, by resurrection. He looked beyond His death to resurrection morning! I don’t think He had any fear of death whatsoever, because death would not be the victor. (See 1 Corinthians 15:55.)

The prayer of our Lord in the garden was answered—He was raised out of death. On that cross He who knew no sin was made sin for us. “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him…” (Isaiah 53:10), and He dealt with His beloved Son as He must deal with every sinner who stands before Him on his own merits. Jesus prayed that He might be delivered out of death and all that death means.

Unfortunately, in the present hour most people are not afraid to die—nor have they been. The pagan world actually teaches that it’s a fine thing to die. There are a great many lost people today who seem not to be afraid of death at all. May I say to you, the liberal has told them God is dead, that there is no afterlife, that death ends it all, and that the grave is the final resting-place. Therefore, when life becomes intolerable down here, multitudes of people choose death, thinking it is the end. My beloved, death is not the end—it’s just the beginning!

The death the Lord Jesus endured was not an ordinary death. It’s a mystery none of us will ever be able to penetrate. On the day of Jesus’ crucifixion God placed a mantle of darkness over that cross for three hours, so no one can describe the sufferings of Christ when He was made sin for you and for me. It’s as if the Holy Spirit pulled down a veil and said, “This is too horrid; this is too terrible. You cannot look inside.” So our feeble attempts to picture it are a travesty. His sufferings on the cross are not described anywhere in the Bible.

The God Who Weeps coverOnly this can be said: There were tears and there was blood. They are silent but eloquent symbols of how God feels. They are real and genuine. His tears were not make-believe tears; His blood was real blood! Both were shed for you. Blood for your redemption and tears if you reject Him.

Some say you’ve got to shed tears to be saved—tears of repentance. But repentance is not shedding tears. Repentance (metanoia in Greek) means a change of mind. You’re going in one direction, then you turn around and go in the opposite direction. If turning to God and away from sin produces tears, well and good, but just be sure, my beloved, that you turn around.

God loves you and gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you. It’s so beautiful, it should make us weep.

Download "The God Who Weeps" for free.

My Turn

Dr. McGee:

A deacon in my church in Nashville, was a funeral director, a man with a very tender heart. He called me once to ask a favor, “Vernon, last night we collected the body of a man from jail. He was a drifter—no one even knows his name. He was drunk when they gathered him, and he died in the night. The county pays for the funeral, but I want to bury him right. Would you come down and have a service?” 

So, I went to the little chapel. My friend borrowed some flowers from another funeral and put them on the pine box casket. Then he sat down and we had a service. I read Scripture, prayed, and said a few things. It was the hardest funeral I’ve ever conducted. No one shed a tear for that nameless man. But although I didn’t see Him, there standing in the shadows that day was our Lord Jesus who, when He was on this earth, went to a grave and wept. He was there in the chapel that day, my beloved, and He wept for that drifter.

A practical and compassionate way you can be like Jesus is to weep with and for people. Ask the Lord to give you eyes to see the hurting people in your path. Then when given the opportunity, be with them as they go through their hardship. Perhaps they’ve lost someone or are suffering in any number of ways. Pray with them, cry with them—Jesus did both. Just be with them. You can express your confidence in God and the comfort of God at the same time.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. -2 Corinthians 1:3-4