Summary: A sermon designed to show how much Jesus identifies with our suffering.


Revelation 21:4/ John 11:17-34

Introduction: Remember when you were child and you had to have your hair washed? When I was little, I hated to get my hair washed. I knew that the soap would burn my eyes and that it would be an unpleasant and even painful experience. I hated to have my hair washed. But I stoically accepted it just like we adults accept death and taxes. And then my mother discovered something called "No More Tears" shampoo. As you know, "No More Tears" is a much gentler shampoo with less irritating ingredients. The shampoo’s specifically designed with babies in mind. You know, tears are an interesting phenomenon. Tears are a release mechanism designed to provide you with an emotional release. Scientific studies indicate that crying is actually good for you. It apparently releases bio-chemicals that can be harmful and also releases a natural soporific that acts as a tranquilizer. That’s why you often find you’re very tired after crying. Crying actually relaxes you. While crying itself may be beneficial for us, the circumstances and events that trigger this response are not. That’s why tears usually symbolize tragedy and suffering as well they should. We usually consider tears something to be avoided. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world where crying, at least crying because of tragedy was no longer necessary? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was no more tragedy or suffering? I want us to look at tears this morning and I want to make three points about tears based on our text.

I. First, all of us shed tears. No matter who we are, all of us shed tears from time to time. Some of us may be more private than others and choose to not let other people see us cry, but we all shed tears. The friends and family of Lori Michelle Dilbeck expected they would be shedding tears of happiness at her wedding. Lori had everything going for her. She was a honors student who had just graduated from UTA. She had worked as an assistant at Arlington vetenary clinic and was offered a partnership if she would become a vetenarian. But Lori wanted to become a nurse so she turned down the opportunity. She had her whole life mapped out. Lori was planning to become a nurse and was preparing for the wedding that would unite her with her fiancee, Joel Martin. But none of that was to be. As Lori Dilbeck drove her car on a Mesquite highway to pick up her wedding portrait, she was hit head on by a drunk driver. She would never marry. Instead of celebrating at her wedding, her family and friends mourned at her funeral. All of us shed tears from time to time because all of us will experience tragedy. But we don’t suffer alone and that brings us to the second point.

II. Second, God knows something about tears. After all, Jesus shed a few. Jump back two thousand years. Jesus’ close friend, Lazarus has died. The Gospel of John tells us specifically that Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. The Greek word used here indicates that they were close friends. They’d probably eaten many meals together and had discussed

many different things with one another as friends generally do. But now, Jesus’s close friend was dead. So he went to pay his respects to Lazarus’ family in Bethany. Notice here that Jesus was late for his friend’s funeral. Oh he wasn’t just a few minutes late, or even a few hours, he was a few days late, and Martha and Mary are hurt that Jesus wasn’t present at the funeral. Perhaps Jesus could have even healed their brother and prevented his death from occurring in the first place. But now it’s too late. The one they loved so much has been taken from them. Lazarus is gone forever. This is undoubtedly why Martha and Mary were so upset with Jesus. Why hadn’t he arrived? Why hadn’t he come to the funeral? He could have prevented this. But he didn’t arrive until days later. Why? Why? (Quote Scriptural exchange between Martha and Jesus and Mary and Jesus) You see Jesus is deeply troubled by tragedy. A couple of interesting Greek words used in the Lazarus story are found in verse 33 where we read, " the word EMBRIMAOMAI, a word that usually means "to speak harshly or criticize harshly.” Here it means to be deeply moved in spirit. The other interesting word is the word TARASSO, which means "to trouble, to disturb, to upset, to terrify, to frighten, to stir up." What this all means is that Jesus is deeply moved and troubled by our tragedy and sorrows. Jesus weeps when we weep, he sorrows, when we sorrow. When we suffer, he suffers with us. It may not turn away our tragedy or set aside our sorrows, but it does bring meaning into our suffering. We don’t suffer alone. We don’t grieve alone.

III. Third, someday there will be no more tears. From time immemorial, tears have been shed over loss, tragedy, suffering. How many oceans would those tears fill? Are we fated to always endure such tragedy? When you’re standing in that cold cemetery staring into the blackness of the ground waiting to bury a parent, your spouse, or worst yet your child, questions like these are inescapable. Will our existence always be a veil of tears? Are we fated to a life of suffering followed by death only to be forgotten forever? That might be what despairing atheists tell us but it’s not what the scriptures teach. According to the author in the Book of Revelation, a time is coming when there will be no more death and evil, no more pain and suffering, in other words a time in which there will be no more tears. The seer of Revelation writes, “He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4). The scriptures teach us that in Christ we have everlasting life. Remember what Jesus said to Martha, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Death doesn’t have the last word. Someday we’ll reign together with Christ and we’ll know no more pain and suffering, no more disease and death, no more tears. I know we live in a frightening time. When you see politicians like Newt Gingrich and journalists on CNN talking like the end of the world is near, you know things are bad. But as Christians, we can look up because God promises us a kingdom in which there will be no more tears.

Conclusion: We all experience tears. Jesus knew what it was to shed tears, but he promises us a kingdom where tears of sorrow will never be shed again. Do you believe this?