Summary: As Jesus approached Jerusalem, crowds of adoring fans shouted his praises. Yet, Jesus paused and wept before entering the city. What prompted his tears and how are they relevant to our emotional struggles today?
Jesus Wept (2)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 9/20/2020
In Lou Holtz's second season as head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, his team experienced a humiliating loss against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Holtz was utterly dejected as he walked into the locker room, but it seemed to him that most of the players didn't appear very distraught over the devastating defeat. With one exception. A second-string sub named Chris Zorich sat in front of his locker, weeping deep gut-heavy sobs. In that moment, Coach Holtz decided that next year's team would be composed of players who loved football as much as Chris Zorich. The next season, this young man went from sub to starter to team captain, and helped the Fighting Irish win a National Championship. Chris Zorich won his spot on the starting team because he cared enough to cry. Some things, at least, are worth crying over.
Maybe you can relate to Chris Zorich's feelings of disappointment and discouragement. For many of us, this year has felt like one big loss after another. Between the coronavirus, the isolation, economic uncertainty, racial tensions, the rioting, the political divisions, the upcoming elections, and disrupted routines, people seem to be more discouraged and depressed than ever before.
If you've had days where you just feel like sobbing in front of your locker or at the foot of your bed, you're not alone. It may comfort you to know that even Jesus, as strong and capable as he was, had moments of deep gut-wrenching sorrow. In fact, the Bible records three separate times that Jesus was so overwhelmed with emotion that he broke down in tears. He experienced the same inner turmoil and tension that we often experience in life. He faced real anxiety and anguish on many occasions. And much like Chris Zorich, Jesus wept deep gut-heavy sobs.
I'm convinced that you an I can learn a lot about ourselves and how to deal with our own disappointment and discouragement through the tears of Jesus.
Last Sunday, we examined the first instance recorded in Scripture of Jesus crying. It took place at Lazarus's funeral, where Mary and Martha were left wondering, as we often are, "Where is God when bad things happen?" Through Mary and Martha's experience, we learned that Jesus is coming—carefully timing his arrival for just the moment, Jesus is caring—willing to weep with us in the midst of our emotional distress, and Jesus is capable—able to raise us up from the dead, heal our hearts, and restore our joy.
The second time Jesus weeps is recorded in Luke 19. If you have a Bible or an app on your phone, feel free to follow along. This too is a familiar scene just days after the resurrection of Lazarus.
On what we remember as Palm Sunday, Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem—for the last time. The sun was beaming over the rolling desert hills, birds were singing the songs of spring, and a gentle breeze whispered through the palm leaves of nearby trees. It was a beautiful day. Everything was perfect. Jesus, the Son of God, climbed confidently onto the back of a young colt which had never before been ridden—a symbol his kingship prophesied long ago by the prophet Zechariah—and gently trotted along the rocky road that led toward Jerusalem’s southern gate.
Like frenzied fans at a Beetles concert or a Bulls Championship, crowds of men, women, and children rushed out to greet Jesus as he approached the city. They started shouting with enthusiastic fervor, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:13). The love and joy that radiated form Jesus’ face affirmed their praise. Then someone pulled a large leaf from a proud palm tree and laid it across Jesus’ path. Another followed suit, then another, until the road was covered in leaves—like a red carpet rolled out just for Jesus.
But as Jesus rounded the last bend in the road, suddenly his countenance changed. The Bible says, "But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep" (Luke 19:41 NLT). What happened? What could possibly have brought Jesus to tears in the midst of such joyous celebration?
Jesus explains his tears in the following verses. As he looks out over the great city of Jerusalem, the crowning jewel of the Kingdom of Judah, he says, "How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you." (Luke 19:42-44 NLT)