The Tears of Jesus!

George Everard, 1884

Thrice Jesus wept.
He wept at Bethany.
He wept on Olivet.
He wept in Gethsemane.

What lessons may we learn from these tears of Jesus?

We shall see. But first let us turn to another thought. Let us think of the tears of others.

When was the first tear shed, and by whom? Was it beneath the trees of Paradise, when our first parents began to learn the misery to which disobedience had brought them?

Was it when God pronounced the curse, "Dust you are, and unto dust shall you return?"

Was it when they were driven out from the pleasant garden in which they had been placed?

Was it when Eve beheld Abel lying in his blood, and she had learned that her first-born was the murderer?

I know not when it was. But one thing I know, that ever since the day that sin entered, the tears of the children of men have been as plentiful as rain in the showery days of April. Yes, and, thank God, not seldom, like those showers, they have been fertilizing also — softening hard hearts, and preparing the way for the good seed of the kingdom.

"Behold, the babe wept," is written of the infant Moses. "The babe wept" — and still, right on through each age, infants and young men and strong men, and maidens and wives and widows, have wept too. The whole world is watered with tears! There is, perhaps, not a single dwelling or a single chamber where a tear has not fallen.

These human tears — what do they mean? They mean sorrow and suffering, pain and disease, care and trouble of every kind. For a time we go on our way, and do our work with pleasure, and enjoy God's good gifts, and escape the enemy.

But the evil day comes at last. The agony scarcely to be endured, the heart-breaking loss or disappointment, the burden of anxiety, the desolation of a bereaved home — something of this sort comes, and then the fountain of tears is opened, and we cannot but weep.

Human tears — what do they mean? They mean repentance and humiliation. They mean sorrow for sins that are past. They mean earnestness in prayer, reality and fervency in seeking help from above. The woman who was a sinner bathed the feet of Jesus with her tears as she remembered her old ways. Jacob wept and made supplication to the angel as he sought a blessing. Hannah, too, and Hezekiah both wept in prayer, and God marked their tears, and their petitions were granted.

Human tears — what do they mean? They mean zeal for God, a holy hatred of evil, a tender compassion for the perishing. Of all tears, none so blessed as these. David could say, "Rivers of waters run down my eyes, because men keep not Your law." Jeremiah could speak of his "eye trickling down" without intermission, because of the miseries of the beloved city. Ezekiel tells of God's favor towards the remnant that "wept and sighed "for the evil around (Ezekiel 9.) The Apostle Paul drops a tear on his letter to the Philippians, as he refers to those who were the enemies of the cross of Christ and whose end was destruction (Philippians 3.)

And all these tears are noted by our merciful Father above!

On opening ancient tombs in Palestine, many a tear-bottle has been found, which was supposed to be a repository for the tears of the mourners, and was then placed in the tomb beside the one who was laid there. In many cases this may have been but a mere mockery of woe — but our heavenly Father does gather all the tears of His redeemed children. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book!" Psalm 56:8

Not one tear is lost. Not one sorrow is unheeded. Not one grief is left unbefriended.

And in the tears of Jesus, has not our Father provided the antidote we need? Without Christ, without a sorrowing, suffering Redeemer — our woes would indeed be hopeless.

We cannot, and we will not believe the cruel, gloomy creed of the secularist and infidel, who would rob us of all the consolation we possess, that would make the Heaven above us as iron and brass, and only leave to us cold, frozen, despairing hearts.

Nay, we have a Savior who has known our sorrows, and by His tears can heal every wound that sin has made. "In all their affliction He was afflicted." He has wept with those that wept, as He rejoiced with those that did rejoice. And He is still the same. We can think of the tears He shed more than eighteen centuries ago, and know that at this hour He is the same loving and sympathizing Friend.

I have said that thrice Jesus wept. Let us consider each occasion, and learn from each to find a remedy and a consolation for the tears we shed.

1. We go to BETHANY. We find weepers there, the sisters and the friends alike in grief, for the loss of Lazarus. But another mourner comes, even Jesus. The shortest verse in Holy Scripture tells of His marvelous love, "Jesus wept."

What a wonderful revelation of Christ's heart! It is a ladder that reaches down to every child of sorrow on earth:

"Jesus wept! That tear of sorrow
Is a legacy of love:
Yesterday, today, tomorrow,
He the same does ever prove.
Lord, when sorrows deepest lie,
Let me think of Bethany."

There is no sympathy like that of Jesus! It flows in full flood toward His believing children. Just as the rising tide rushes in and pours through every cranny and nook on the shore where admittance can be gained — so does Christ's tender loving-kindness enter the hearts of His people.

If only you desire it and humbly seek it–then it is for you. Your sorrow may go deeper than that of most, there may be a specialty about it that others cannot comprehend. But Jesus knows and Jesus feels for you, and the assurance of His care and His presence will be more to you than any other source of comfort.

Remember, too, that with the tears of Jesus at Bethany there was spoken a promise of immortality. It is one of the most glorious of the "I Am's" of John's Gospel. It meets us at the solemn hour when we carry our beloved ones to the silent grave. "I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he dies — yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in Me, shall never die!" (John 11:25, 26).

But there was more than this. At the grave of Bethany, there was the manifestation of resurrection power. By His word, He called him that had been four days dead. Put these together. Think of the heart that "is touched with all our woes." Think of the voice that promises a glorious and unending life. Think of the power that can summon back the dead from the grave. And all are yours — if you receive Christ by faith and rely upon Him. A sympathy beyond all thought, a blessed life of immortality, a mighty power that can reach beyond the utmost limit of your necessities and griefs — on these may you rely all through your earthly pilgrimage.

2. But we read that Jesus wept on MOUNT OLIVET. He reaches the spot where He can see the beautiful city. The multitude around are singing their Hallelujahs, and rejoicing in the coming of their King. But Jesus weeps. Not for His own sufferings, now close at hand; not for the shame and contempt and cruel death which He was to endure — but for the beloved city. He foresaw the doom which was so fast approaching. The wolf would come down on the fold, and the children of Zion would be a prey and spoil to the destroyer. The Roman eagles would be planted in the city, and her temple and her palaces and her people would perish.

And beneath and beyond all this, the eye of Jesus could discern a still more terrible woe. Those whom had refused His mercy, now they must bear the guilt and punishment of their iniquity. No more invitations, no more offers of life and salvation, but the dreaded prison-house of the lost–and, whatever the awful words may mean, "The worm that never dies, and the fire that is never quenched!" For all this Jesus wept; for He is patient and long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

And may not these tears be for the encouragement of those who grieve over surrounding evil, and who often sow the good seed of eternal life in tears?

How confident may you be, that you are not alone in your work or in your sorrow! He who wept on Olivet, knows well this burden that lies on your heart, and stands by you in every effort you make, to save the souls of the perishing.

And let those tears teach you another lesson. Be very compassionate for those who go astray. Nourish the gentleness of Christ. In meekness instruct those who oppose themselves. When M'Cheyne preached on the terrors of Hell, it was with tears in his eyes as he thought on the misery coming on those who continued in unbelief. In all faithfulness, tell such as continue in their unbelief of the bitter fruits of sin and impenitence — but let love be manifested in all you say. Let no harsh or angry word mar the good you may do. Speak gently to young and old, to the anxious seeking one and to the hardened and impenitent sinner. There is no better way to win them than thus to show the tender love of Christ.

3. Once more we read that Jesus wept. It was in the lonely garden of GETHSEMANE, in that terrible agony which preceded His death. Paul tells us that "He offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him who was able to save Him from death — and was heard in that He feared."

And were not those tears a part of that great atonement, the foretaste of that bitter cup He tasted on Calvary? And if so, may not the penitent see in them a ground for hope, an assurance that his tears shed in the remembrance of his sin, shall not be in vain? Yes, those tears of Jesus pointed to that healing flood of mercy and grace which flowed from the wounds of Jesus, and which brings pardon, life, and salvation, to all who flee to it.

Thrice Jesus wept. Thrice he fulfilled His own title, "The Man of Sorrows." Thrice he thus bids us bring every tear and grief to Him, and rely on His sympathy, and faithfulness, and love.

Thrice Jesus wept, and thrice it is promised in Holy Scripture that "God shall wipe away all tears from the eyes "of His people (Isaiah 25:8; Rev. 7:17, 21:4). He wept — that we might never weep. Though for a season tears and troubles may be our lot, yet believing in Christ, and following His footsteps — a Father's hand shall remove every sorrow and give everlasting gladness.


Tears of love! behold them flowing,
From the Elder Brother's eye;
See Him as a mourner going
To the grave at Bethany.
He, who through the shadowy portal
Summoned back the freed immortal,
He, whose all-commanding word
Sheathed the gloomy victor's sword,
There, where buried friendship sleeps,
He, our own Immanuel, weeps.

Tears of pity! see them gushing
From their pure and sacred fount;
Angels, your hosannas hushing,
Bend you from the holy mount;
Stoop to read the wondrous story,
How the Father's "brightest glory"
At a sinner's grave can stand,
Mourner 'mid a mourning band,
With the heart, the voice, the eye,
Of a perfect sympathy.

Tears of Jesus! while I ponder,
Blessed comfort let me reap:
"That same Jesus" lives yonder,
Who on earth was used to weep.
Though His brow the rainbow wears,
Yet my thorny crown He shares,
Yet that loving heart divine
Throbs responsively to mine;
Not a struggling sigh can rise,
But 'tis echoed in the skies.

Blessed Jesus, in Thy sorrow
Friends and kindred passed You by;
You alone could never borrow
The support of sympathy.
When Your human heart was bursting,
When Your parched lip was thirsting,
When encompassed by the foe,
Mocking at Your bitter woe,
You, who had a heart for all,
Drank alone Your cup of gall.

Now in glory, where You dwell,
All unknown is sorrow's look;
Yet Your people's tears You count,
"Are they not within Your book?"
While my "night of weeping" lasts,
Before the morn its brightness casts,
My blessed portion may it be,
That You weep, Lord, with me;
And one day, with heart and voice,
In Your joy, may I rejoice!
 Ellen H. Willis