Summary: This sermon focuses on the reality that there are times Christians’s should be marked by tears --- compassion for the hurting is seen in Jesus.
It’s Crying Time
Isn’t it interesting that we men aren’t supposed to cry? It’s true, you know—we’re supposed to be tough and strong. Big boys don’t cry. Unless you’re singing a country song. I remember a country tune from many a year ago that proclaimed: “Well, it’s crying time again, you’re gonna leave me. I can see that far away look in your eye. I can tell by the way you hold me darlin,’ that it won’t be long until it’s crying time.” I learned the lesson—I can’t cry about a broken bone, but a broken heart, and watch be blubber.
Of course, I have grown a lot since the days of my youth. And I’ve learned a rather important lesson. It takes a strong man to cry, a real man, a man of character. How do I know this? Listen to our text—“Jesus wept.” This is the shortest verse in the Bible, but no verse carries more meaning in it. (A. T. Robertson). Friends, if the King of Kings and Lord of Lords can weep in a moment of sorrow, then I need not fear a tear. In this to the point passage, Jesus shared in the sorrow brought about by Lazarus’s death. He taught us that it’s okay to weep when it’s crying time.
And folks, if you live in the world I live in, it’s crying time almost all the time. People are hurting all around us. In a world that hurt’s this badly, our eyes should be wet with tears. Our tears should reflect the love that we have for people who are hurting and struggling in this world. When should we be weeping? When should our eyes be filled with tears? Consider the following times.
I. We should weep when those around us have lost hope.
A. For reasons that the disciples might not ever have fathomed, when Jesus got word that Lazarus was sick, he delayed getting to Lazarus’s side—the end result, his friend died.
1. When he finally arrived at Bethany, he was greeted by Martha who had a strong note of resignation in her voice.
2. “Martha’s word is neither accusation nor reproach but deep sorrow and poignant regret. When Lazarus was sick, the sisters longed, ‘Oh, if only he were here!’ Then they sent him word, but Lazarus died, and so the regret set in, ‘Oh, if only he had been here!’” (Lenski, 796-97).
3. To Martha’s credit, she tried to muster courage, hope of some sort to hold onto—yet, even the promise of a resurrection at the end of time didn’t seem to help her much: even that knowledge couldn’t take away the pain of the moment: Lazarus was dead now. How was she going to make it, right now?
B. Hope is such a precarious thing—one swift bump, and it falls over with a thud.
C. If we follow in the steps of our Lord—we will be there: loving, and trying to help pick up the pieces of a shattered dream: and we’ll cry along with those who are hurting.
1. When Jesus cared enough to be involved with Martha’s loss of hope—her hope was restored: Her confession of faith in Jesus is the strongest in the gospels—Peter testified in a moment of exhilaration. Martha testified of a faith from the pit of despair. Herschel Hobbs wrote: “Insofar as she could tell, He had failed her. Yet she still believed in him” (Hobbs, Zond, John, 61).
2. When we care enough to be involved, to show the world our Jesus, maybe, just maybe—hope will be restored.
II. We should weep when those around us have faced tragedy.
A. Mary then comes to Jesus—and her reaction is so very similar to Martha’s, yet marked by a more emotional outburst.
1. John uses words that tell us, as soon as Mary saw Jesus, she burst into tears, falling at his feet.
2. “If only you had been here. . .” she repeats Martha’s words—“my brother’s life wouldn’t have been wasted!”
3. Her loss is so very powerful, that all those around her are drawn into her pain—and share in her weeping: and it stirs Jesus to the very pits of his being.
4. Mary and Martha were not spared the pain that death brought upon them; neither was Jesus—even though he knew that death didn’t have the final word. The family of Lazarus and their dear friend would face their tragedy together!
B. Every single day of this world—someone faces a horrible loss. Listen to the word of a distraught father who tells of his reaction to the death of his son.
C. We may not offer the solution to tragedy that Jesus offered Mary and Martha, but, we can be certain that those who face the tragedies of life know that they need not do so alone.