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Friday, May 22, 2020

Jesus Wept

When I was young and going to youth groups or camps there were always Bible memorization contests. Of course, my brother -- a year and a half younger than me -- would always win if he was part, but, still I did okay. Of course, when simply seeing who could memorize the most verses, we all liked John 11:35. "Jesus wept." Excellent! That's one. As if the only reason that verse is in the Bible was for memorization contests.

In Romans we read, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." (Rom 12:15) You'd think that would be easy. I contend it's not always so. Sometimes, when people are happy about things we think they shouldn't be, we'll be sure, because of our superior morality, to not rejoice with them. But more often, we will often respond to those who weep with attempts to get them to stop. It's well-intentioned. It's generally from genuine concern. I don't mean that it's bad; it's just ... not what Paul says there in Romans.

That's why our favorite memory verse in our youth is so helpful. In the story of John 11, Jesus was told that His dear friend, Lazarus, was sick. "Come quickly." He didn't. He waited until Lazarus died. He had a purpose. He was going to demonstrate His claim, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live." (John 11:25) He told Lazarus's sisters when He arrived. They didn't get it. So He went to the grave. Seeing all the mourners, "Jesus wept." Why? He wasn't unclear on the outcome. He knew what was about to happen. He knew that all these people were weeping for no good reason. Why did He weep? He wept with those who wept. Lots of people conjecture on the motivation. The lack of faith or Man's sin and the death it brought or the cost of redemption or even His own impending death. And any or all of these might be so. But these are all conjecture. What we know is that Jesus wept with those who wept.

Recently a man I've known for 40 years died. (Old age. So far, the human death rate is 100% -- death takes us all.) He was far away and I hadn't seen him in years, but I wept. What I needed at that moment wasn't comfort. I had that. He is with the Lord. It wasn't encouragement. I had that. He was in a better place. I just needed to weep. And that's okay. Because Jesus wept. And that was okay.

We are told to empathize with people -- rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep -- without necessarily embracing their motivation or reasoning. It's not a bad thing. Our Savior did it. I think it's part of our sharing one another's burdens.

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