The Second Sunday in Lent March 17, 2019
Text: Luke 13:31-34 ILCW Series C 19:2115
Theme: Jesus Wept in Love.
Do you cry? When do you cry? Unless you have no feelings at all, no emotions – like a hardened criminal or a heartless murderer – you cry. It’s part of our human make-up. It’s as much a part of us as laughter is, only at the opposite end. We laugh when we’re happy; we cry when we’re sad. Although once in a while we may experience “tears of joy,” for the most part we cry on sad occasions. The tears might not always be seen on the outside, on our faces, but they certainly fall within the heart.
Jesus cried too. In fact this past week in some Bible studies some of you reminded me that the shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept.” He cried on at least 3 different occasions with different reasons behind each. And each time He wept, He cried in love.
I. Jesus Wept…with tears of compassion.
One time that He cried was at the grave of His friend Lazarus. Lazarus’ death took place not long after the incident in our text. After Jesus received word of Lazarus’ passing, He went to the city in which the family lived. Lazarus’ sisters were grieving. When Jesus saw them and their friends sobbing, “He was deeply moved in His spirit and troubled.” He shuddered and shook. Warm tears dropped softly upon His cheeks. He was upset at what sin had done to His people, bringing death and sadness upon them. “Jesus wept” (Jn.11:35).
In the beginning the Lord never intended His creation to suffer such pain and death. But sin entered and death followed closely behind. It brought the worst kind of suffering and sorrow with it. You who have lost someone near and dear to you know that. It distressed the Savior, too. And Jesus wept.
They were tears of compassion. Even though He was the Son of God, He didn’t consider sadness and weeping beyond Him. The tears fell. Our Savior was a man acquainted with grief and sorrow. He was familiar with suffering (Is.53:3). He knows what deep losses sin has inflicted upon His creatures. When we cry, so does He. He weeps in love with tears of compassion for us. There is comfort in that.
But He does more than merely feel our pain and shed tears. He did something about it so that death would not be our tragic end. He was determined to help, so determined that nothing would alter His course to Jerusalem, the cross, and the tomb that awaited Him there, not even the opposition of King Herod or the Pharisees.
Some Pharisees came to Jesus and warned, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” Whether they said that out of concern for Jesus or not is hard to tell. But when did the majority of Pharisees ever show concern for Jesus? Jesus didn’t let them scare Him away, nor did He let them decide His schedule. He saw people who needed Him, and He wept. They were…
II. …tears of concern.
Such divine tears of concern fell on several occasions under similar circumstances (Lk.19:41f; Mt.23:37f). Jesus looked at His people and was so distressed about their wandering from Him that He spoke words of warning. He was deeply concerned and cried out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”
Can you hear the pained note of anguish in Jesus’ voice? No matter how many prophets He sent to His people in the Old Testament times, Israel turned away. Some they killed, like they wanted to do with Jeremiah in our first lesson today. The last prophet they killed was John the Baptist. But God never stopped trying to draw them to Himself. He sent one and then another and then others until finally He sent His dearly beloved Son. It was all done out of desperate love and great concern for their eternal welfare. That’s the way God is. He doesn’t give up on man. Rather, man sadly gives up on Him, or as Jesus said, “They are not willing to have Him.”
When men say “no” to God, that is an awful thing. The more fearful revelations contained in all of the Scriptures have to be those that speak to the future fate of all who turn away from Christ and reject Him. Unless they repent, they will all perish (Lk.13:5).
Whoever takes such words of God to heart and does not pass over them lightly, will be concerned because millions upon millions pass us by in our lives like sheep going to the slaughter. They do not know or want the Lord Jesus. What a fearful thought! How can we not be concerned?!
In love Jesus is concerned for He always wants to help. He wants to draw all to Himself – never to turn any away or to allow that which does harm. Jesus described that great concern of His in terms of a mother bird gathering her chicks under her wings.
When the hawk circles menacingly overhead and begins its descent upon the unsuspecting chicks in the yard below, what will a mother hen do? She won’t just stand there and watch as her chicks are helplessly destroyed. With a cluck and a cackle and a beating of the wings she’ll run to them, pecking hard at the throat of whatever tries to inflict harm upon them. At the same time she spreads her wings and sweeps her children under her to protect them. At night, she’ll do a similar thing. She covers them to keep them warm in her love. It’s done out of her concern for their well-being.
Our Savior is like a mother hen. He wants to draw us closer to His heart to protect, to nourish, and to cover us in the warmth of His love. And if ever we turn away, He cries tears of great concern.
How different from us He can be! If people turn away, so often we’re content, even relieved to see them go. If they don’t care for us, let them have it their way. In contrast the Savior hurts deeply and is not content to let them go because it means their eternal destruction. In love He weeps tears of great concern.
Those tears tell me something important about my Savior. They tell me that He means what He says. They tell me He wanted to go to Jerusalem to die on the cross for sin so that He could draw all under His care eternally. That sin, like a hawk, circled overhead, ready to grab and destroy me. But Christ spread His arms wide on the cross that I might fall beneath His protection. Jesus came not to destroy us. “He came to seek and to save those who were lost” (Lk.19:10). Oh, such great concern for you, for me, for all. But in the end Jesus’ tears of concern in our text, turned into…
III. …tears of sorrow and caused our Savior great pain.
On another occasion Jesus wept tears of sorrow like this. We heard of it in the Lenten service this past week when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. As He lay face down in the dust, we are told that “loud cries” wrenched from His throat (He.5:7). As He wrestled with the immense load that was on His shoulders, tears dropped from His eyes as heavy as the blood that dripped like sweat from His body. What brought our Savior to such a state?
It wasn’t the tension he felt, although what He went through in His Passion is more than I could ever imagine. Indeed, that was wearing on Him. But much heavier and painful was the weight of the world’s sins that crushed Him into the dust of Gethsemane so that He cried out with tears of sorrow to His heavenly Father.
A similar feeling was His in our text, maybe not as intense as in Gethsemane, but just as sorrowful. His people had run from Him.
Have you ever had anybody for whom you cared a lot run from you? It’s alarming, distressing, painful. God feels that and more when His people turn from Him. Jesus feels it so much that in love He weeps tears of sorrow.
Yet, He did not give up. He pressed on, sad over those who turned away, but He pressed on driving out demons, healing the sick, preaching the good news to the poor until He reached His goal, the cross of Calvary. Not even that sly, old fox Herod and the Pharisees with threats could stop Him. In love He gladly pressed on for us.
Oh, how He must love us! Why else does He shed such tears? Why else does He endure such pain? Why else does He put up with such rejection? Because He wanted to draw us all to Himself. So He rose from the dust to walk in love to the cross for us.
Dear Lord Jesus, may the tears that You cry for us fill our souls with awe and gratitude. Sometimes You weep in sorrow. Sometimes Your tears are those of great concern. But always and only they fall out of compassion as in love You seek to draw us to yourself. There is no better place for us to rest than in the shadow of your wings. Lord, draw us through Your Word and grant us comfort, rest, and hope; for Your name’s sake. Amen.