Monday, March 07, 2005

No More Tears

“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.”
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

I don’t have tear ducts. This is one of the many results of my birth defect. This means, that my tears run down my face instead of draining properly. So, I am constantly wiping tears off my cheek which has led to the question I get on an almost daily basis, “Are you crying?!” Through the years, I have heard many responses, but the most interesting was from a coworker who said, “God must have never wanted you to cry.”

Hearing such a response from a non-religious person really convicted me. At that point in my life, I had done a lot of crying and I was ashamed when I realized that most of my tears were rooted in the sod of self-pity. I determined at that moment that from that point forward I would cry “for the glory of God.”

I figured that determining what made Jesus Christ cry would be a pretty safe place to start. Scripture gives us three accounts of Christ crying: weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), weeping at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:35), and weeping in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion (Luke 22:44). I put these accounts into three categories:

  1. Weeping over hard hearts that do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah
  2. Weeping out of grief over the loss of a loved one and/or seeing others we love grieving.
  3. Weeping over the thought of being separated from God and falling under his wrath and condemnation.

The reason I concluded (#3) that Christ’s tears in the garden were the result of being separated from his Father and having the wrath of God fall upon him instead of simply saying that Jesus was crying because he was afraid of death and the pain of torture lies in Matthew 10:28 where it says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” I am confident that if God requires us, as mere mortals, to face death without fear that his Son, Jesus, modeled that for us perfectly without contradiction or failure.

I doubts that Christ was looking forward to it or that he enjoyed the torture, but I don’t think that is why he was crying. Christ knew his death would ultimately repair the separation between him and God and remove God’s wrath, this is why Hebrews 12:2 says, and “It was because of the JOY set before him that Christ endured the cross.”

Christ was right to weep over the thought of falling under the wrath of God and we overlook a valuable, beautiful, life-saving Truth if we reduce his tears in Gethsemane to, “Jesus was scared to die.”

There is another interesting tidbit that seems to weave these three accounts together. Christ wept in Gethsemane and three days later he rose from the dead. Christ wept over Lazarus and three minutes later Lazarus rose from the dead. It leads one to assume that the hard hearts in Jerusalem, embalmed with the tears of Christ, will also one day resurrect.

I conclude, therefore, that God is honored when we weep over hard hearts that reject Jesus as the Messiah (John 14:6), death or grieving along with others who are grieving (Romans 12:15), and facing the wrath of God without a Redeemer (Romans 2:5). Another instance where I believe it is glorifying to God to cry, and a scenario Christ could not possibly have modeled for us, is to weep over our sin.

Finally, it is interesting to me that the American culture has a stigma against men crying, sighting it as a sign of “weakness.” However, the Bible comes to a radically different conclusion – showing us a Man who wept and whose tears were so strong, they raised the dead.

A faithful and serious pondering of these things will revolutionize the way we live, the way we pray, and…the way we cry.

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