HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

Jesus wept–John 11:35

And when he was come near, he beheld the city and wept over it,–Luke 19:41

Only Two Occasions of Jesus Weeping Are Recorded

There are but two occasions in the Gospels on which we light upon our Savior weeping; only two instances in which we see His tears. It is true that in the Epistle to the Hebrews we have a glimpse into the inner life of Christ, and there we read that He made supplication with tears and strong crying unto God. But into that interior life of prayer when Father and Son had fellowship together, we cannot enter, for it is holy ground. The point to observe is that in His recorded life we only hear of the tears of Jesus twice; once at the grave of a man who was His friend: once when Jerusalem lay spread out before Him. And both, not in the earlier days of youth when the human heart is susceptible and quivering, but in the later season when the cross was near. Goethe confesses in his autobiography that as he grew older he lost the power of tears, and there are many men who, as experience gathers, are conscious of a hardening like that. But our Savior, to the last moment that He lived, was quick and quivering to joy and sorrow, and His recorded tears are near the end. Never was He so conscious of His joy as in the closing season of His ministry; never did He speak so much about it nor so single it out as His most precious legacy. And so with weeping, which in the human heart is so often the other side of joy–it is under the shadow of His last days that it is recorded.

Both Weepings Prompted Not by Suffering,but by Divine Compassion

I am going to speak on the differences between these two Weepings; but first I ask you to observe one feature in which the two are beautifully kin. There are tears in the world, bitter and scalding tears, which are wrung out by personal affliction; tears of anguish, of intense corporeal anguish; tears caused by cruelty or mockery. And the point to be ever observed is that our Lord, though He suffered intensely in all such ways as that, never, so far as we read, was moved to tears. He was laughed to scorn–He of the sensitive heart–yet it is not then we read that Jesus wept. He was spat upon and scourged and crucified; but it is not then we light upon Him weeping. And even in the garden of Gethsemane where great drops were falling to the ground, drops which would have looked like tears to any prying child among the olives, Scripture tells us, as with a note of warning lest we should misinterpret what was happening there, that they were not tears, but drops of sweat and blood. The tears of our Lord were not wrung out by suffering, however intense and cruel it might be. On the only two occasions when we read of them they are the tears of a divine compassion. And whenever one thinks of that, one is impressed again with the wonder of the figure of the Christ, so infinitely pitiful and tenderhearted; so unswervingly and magnificently brave.

The First Tears Were Shed for the Individual, the Second for Many

Now if we take these two occasions on which the weeping of Jesus is recorded, and if, having found their common element, we go on to note the points on which they differ, what is the difference that first would arrest you? Well, I shall tell you what first impresses me. It is that the former tears were shed for one, and the latter tears were shed for many. Jesus wept beside the grave of Lazarus, for one single solitary friend; for a man who had loved Him with a great devotion and given Him always a welcome in his home. There is no such human touch in all the Gospels, nothing that so betrays the heart of Christ, as to be simply told that Jesus wept when He went out to stand before the grave of Lazarus. Here is a heart that has known the power of friendship, that has known the infinite solace of the one; a heart more deeply moved when that one dies than by all the cruelties which men can hurl at Him. And then, having learned of His infinite compassion for those who have had one heart to love and lose, we read that Jesus wept over the city. Picture Jerusalem on that Sunday morning, densely crowded for the Passover. Every house was full and every street was thronged; there were tens of thousands gathered there. And when our Lord, turning the crest of Olivet, saw before Him that crowded city, then like a summer tempest came His tears. Tears for the one; tears for the twice ten thousand: how typical is that of the Redeemer! Never was there a compassion so discriminative, and never a compassion so inclusive. Our separate sorrows–He understands them all, and our hours of solitary anguish by the grave; but not less the problem of the crowd. There are men who are full of sympathy for personal sorrows, but have never heard the crying of the multitude. There are men who hear the crying of the multitude, but have never been broken-hearted at the tomb. Christ has room for all and room for each. He loves the world with a divine compassion. And yet there is no one here who cannot say, “He loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

Author: Godfrey Gregg