No More Tears

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“[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
The victorious climax of the movie, The Passion of the Christ, is signified by a giant “tear” falling from heaven at the moment Jesus gives up His Spirit and dies. While that touch may be a bit too theatrical for some, its imagery is effective, especially as it begins a storm that roars fully into life. “All hell” breaks loose as sin, death, and the devil are defeated. That’s why we hear the anguished howl of Satan in the pit of hell. And at the same time, above ground, an earthquake rocks the temple, splitting the curtain and opening the Holy of Holies, all of which is now replaced by the sacrificed Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The chain reaction set in motion by one tear from God’s eye is certainly more a case of artistic expression than historical fact, but it give a picture of the depth of God’s sorrow at the death of His only begotten Son. It also begs the question: Does God ever cry? Has He ever really shed tears? Perhaps you’ve never thought about it, so think about it now! In your wildest imaginations, have you ever thought that God could or would cry? That the powerful God who made the entire universe would be capable of grief?
Yes, it’s true. In Genesis 6, “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart.” While God spared Noah and his family, He was angry and hurt enough that if Mel Gibson were to do a movie about the flood he might show God shedding enough tears to flood and destroy the entire world.
But for today, we’re more interested in the fact that God, in the person of Jesus, really wept. The Gospels record two instances shortly before His Passion where the mighty Son of God actually cried. One of those times is recorded in the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” As He stood at the grave of His dear friend, Lazarus, and He saw Mary and Martha mourning the death of their brother, Jesus broke down and cried with His friends.
Why did Jesus cry when He knew He was going to bring His friend back to life in just a few minutes? Was it in sympathy for Martha and Mary, seeing them so sad in the agony of separation from their brother? Was it out of sorrow for Lazarus, whose illness and suffering had culminated in death? Was it in sympathy for Lazarus who would now have to return to the pains of life on earth? Or was it grief over the fact that sin has brought death to everyone since Adam and Eve?
 The second time the Gospels tell us Jesus wept is the beginning of Holy Week. Jesus had just begun to approach the city of Jerusalem in that remarkable Palm Sunday procession. His disciples and the crowds had cheered Him with the words, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.”  
The Pharisees didn’t like that. They said, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.
Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” And then we read: “And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes’” (Luke 19:38–42).
Why do you think Jesus wept over Jerusalem? It could have been for many sins. But Jesus tells us the real reason for His tears: they were neglecting the things that belonged to their peace. They were neglecting and even opposing Him, the Prince of Peace. And that sin of unbelief, that lack of faith in Jesus Christ, is the greatest sin of all. As a result of God’s just judgment for her sin and unbelief, Jerusalem would be totally destroyed in 40 years. That’s why Jesus wept!
Is there anything in your life right now which would cause Jesus to weep?
Of course there is—and in mine, too. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We’ve all taken God’s grace for granted and followed our own sinful thoughts and desires. We’ve all failed to fear, love, and trust God above all things. We’ve all failed to love our neighbor as ourselves. We’ve all doubted God’s promises and neglected His holy Word. We’ve all given Jesus plenty of reason to weep by what we have done and left undone.
Jesus knows something about our frailties and tears. He experienced them Himself firsthand. The author of Hebrews points us to one particular instance where it drove Him to tears—our Lord’s anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion. “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, being designated by God as high priest after the order of Melchizedek” (5:7-10).
The author piles up words, giving us under the Spirit’s guidance even more details of Christ’s agony than recorded in the four Gospels. “Prayers,” expression of needs, become “supplications,” urgent requests, based upon the word used of beggars carrying an olive branch as a symbol of extreme needs. From Christ’s lips also come “loud cries,” literally, cries He wishes to stifle but which are wrung out of Him by extreme agony. From His eyes come tears as visible signs of His woe. The anguish and agony deepen till they lead to His sweat becoming “like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Do you ever feel like you’re alone, left to hung out to dry? Here is one who, utterly alone,  has gone through more than you’ll ever know. Here is one who knows just how to help you.
To whom and for what does the Great High Priest pray in the Garden of Gethsemane? “To the one who was able to save Him from death.” As the darkness of the world’s sin wrapped around Him and the horror of the world’s damnation washed over Him, Jesus’ human nature shrank from the task. This was no refusal, but recoil. In perfect obedience He adds to His fervent praying the words recorded in Matthew 26:42, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me.”
Because He is completely attuned and perfectly submissive to His Father’s holy will, Jesus’ prayer is heard and answered. But the Father’s answer is not to remove His Son’s cross, rather to ready Him for it, even sending an angel from heaven to strengthen Him. Just think of the powerful miracle and profound mystery involved in all of this. Jesus who is God’s Son from all eternity takes on human form and suffers. He who as God’s Son perfectly obeys the Father from all eternity now learns the full cost of that obedience. He becomes “obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Having reached His goal, this Great High Priest becomes the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him. Now, we have another reason to weep—but this time our tears are tears of joy and thankfulness for our salvation.
Jesus wept! Never forget it! And we cry, too—from the moment we are born, through many of the scrapes and sadnesses and frustrations of living, down to the final agony of our death, we weep. Never be ashamed to cry! God made us able to cry. In fact, the ability to cry is a remnant of His holy image given to man a creation. Weeping can be a godly activity. Tears can be godly expressions of emotion, particularly when shed over sin and injustice. Often tears are the healthiest release and relief for our grief.
Remember that Jesus, too, cried when Lazarus died. Jesus came to this world to have experiences like ours in all things (but without sin)—and that includes weeping. He knows all about our tears of anguish and anger, of hurt and heaviness, of deprivation, desperation, and despair.
And those tears we cry mean much to Him! You may pour out your tears with your fears when you pray. In 2 Kings 20, godly King Hezekiah cried bitterly as he prayed for the healing of his disease and prolonged life. God saw those tears, healed him, and extended his life 15 years!
In Psalm 56:2, King David was complaining and praying, “My enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly.” And then he speaks some very strange-sounding words to the Lord (v 8): “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
Let me explain what David means.
In ancient days sometimes a narrow-necked bottle called a “lachrymatory” was found in a tomb. It was believed that the tears of a deceased person’s friends were collected in such a bottle and placed in the grave with him as a memorial. It’s not easy to collect tears in a bottle. But David is asking God to gather up his tears one by one, record them in His book, and store them up in His bottle like good wine, since those tears are precious to Him. David knows that his loving God cares deeply about the things that are troubling him. He knows that God cares about every single tear that David sheds, and that He will do something about them.
David’s Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this world to do something about our tears. He came to put those precious tears of ours into “His bottle,” as it were, and to be with us also when we weep, because He Himself knows what it means to weep. “Blessed are those who mourn,” says Jesus in the Beatitudes, “for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
All this Jesus has done for us. It took blood, sweat, and tears. When you contemplate the agony of our Lord’s Passion, it’s really a very emotional experience. Those of you have watched the movie, The Passion of the Christ, probably cried as few tears yourself as you watched. I know I certainly did, and as I watched people leave the theater afterward there weren’t too many dry eyes.
Yes, a deep reflection on Christ’s death and resurrection can make you cry. And then you begin to wonder: “All this He has done for me. What can I do for Him? Shall I weep for Him? Shall I feel sorry for Him and the pain and suffering He endured?” That’s what the weeping women of Jerusalem did while Jesus was on the way to the cross. But Jesus told them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28).
“Blessed are they who mourn,” Jesus said. But He’s not referring to those who mourn for Jesus and His suffering and death, but to those who mourn for their sins that He died for. I think of a verse from a hymn we often sing during Lent: 
But drops of grief cannot repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
‘Tis all that I can do. (LSB 437:5)
To be sure, as long as we live in this fallen world we will continue to weep from time to time. When we fail miserably at something, we may weep. When our feelings have been hurt, we may weep. When we think about the rough road ahead of us, we may weep. When a loved one dies, we most certainly will weep. But in all our weeping, Jesus is right there with us. He understands our pain. He is with us in our grief. He promises us healing and comfort that lasts for eternity.
In Baptism, your Old Adam is crucified with Christ, and your new man is raised in His resurrection. In the water and Word, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in you, your sins are washed away, and you are clothed with Christ’s righteousness. In His Supper, the Lord gives you the medicine of immortality, His very body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. In each of these means of grace, Jesus gives you peace, comfort, and strength for the trials and tears of today, and a promise of much better things to come.  
Let’s hear again that promise from Revelation (21:1–4):
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’”
Go in peace! You are forgiven for all of your sins.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.  


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