Two simple words in a story in the middle of the Gospel of John, but what led to those words and the weight that they carry is astounding!
Go back with me for a moment. Back to the very beginning.
God the Son, in the magnificent power of the Triune God, breathed out the entire universe into existence. He created expansive galaxies, the Sun, the Moon, night and day. He formed the earth. He made the laws of nature. He created plants and animals, and created massive beasts and microcosmic organisms that we are just now figuring out. All that He made He saw that it was good!
As the apex of His creation, He Himself breathed life into a creature that He had formed from the dirt. These would be unique creatures that were to be in His own image – reflecting His character and His personal nature. He gave this first human a perfect companion and set them in a garden. He gave them everything they could ever want, including His own presence. He walked with them in the cool of the day, communing with them as friends.
However, it wasn’t enough for them.
His enemy tricked Eve by casting doubt on God’s character. Then, Adam knowingly chose to defy His Creator’s authority and goodness, choosing to pursue his own kingdom rather than God’s. He watched the horror of the innocence leaving the ones He loved, and He pronounced the righteous judgment that He had warned if they chose to walk away from the Giver of life: death. This would justly have been the end of humanity. Yet, in His mercy, He cursed the ground for our sake and clothed Adam and Eve, promising them redemption in blood.
God was there and watched as the cruel effects of sin took hold on mankind and on the earth that was once seen as “good.” Earth fell into chaos and hardship, and within only one generation, humans were murdering each other. God observed our rebellion continually grow to such depravity that He was forced to wipe out the entire population on earth with a flood. Yet, because of His grace, He spared one family – renewing His promised redemption.
Our rebellious hearts continue to manifest as His rescue plan took shape through Abraham and his descendants, through David, and through His people, Israel. He watched in heartbreak as even His own people turned from Him, committing spiritual adultery by going after other gods that were nothing more than unfeeling stone or lifeless wood.
What Did He Do About It?
When the time was right, God the Son put on human eyes.
Think about that for a moment.
He used human eyes to see a culture afflicted by poverty and the cruelty of the Romans. He used those eyes to witnesses suffering, sickness, disease, and even possibly watching Joseph, the man who raised Him, die. He watched people sin against each other and rebel against God. He saw the religious leaders demand their external laws be meticulously followed, gloating in their own pride at keeping them, while completely disregarding the laws of God.
Hearing with human ears that His friend was sick, He knew that Lazarus’ illness was heartbreaking, but temporary. He saw Martha and Mary approach Him, correctly informing Him with a painful understanding that if only Jesus would have arrived sooner, His friend, their brother, would not have died. He saw the pain of the people He loved dearly. He felt their anguish. He heard the mourners surrounding the sister wailing and inwardly He groaned deeply.
Jesus knew who His identity. The sisters knew it as well. He is the resurrection and the life, and He would demonstrate His power as a sign of who He is. He knew the purpose of the suffering. He knew that He was the Savior who would fix all pain and sorrow and would wipe away every tear from the very ones who now were full of grief. Christ saw the pain of death that had extended from the first generation of man until even what we are experiencing today. He knew the pain of continual sickness and death of every family that will extend until His return.
Jesus was the one who had fashioned the eyeballs of Adam in the very beginning of time and saw it was “good.” Adam used those same eyes to lust after the fruit and what he thought it represented. This was to rebel against God’s kingdom for the sake of his own, leading to unspeakable tears. Jesus, as the second Adam, with human eyes of his own, took in all the pains, sorrows, and hurts of those He loved, and out of those eyes, with a heart of anguish that had seen suffering for millennia, the tears began to quietly flow.
What Does it Mean?
The word ‘empathy’ has the idea of correctly understanding and caring for someone else’s feelings. For Jesus, He did not just understand our hurts and pains, Isaiah 53:4 says,
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;”
Not only did Jesus empathize with us, and not only did He put Himself in our shoes, but He took those shoes as His own! What does that mean? It means that Jesus, in His Divine Humanity, experienced every emotion perfectly, with an eternal understanding of the sin that led to the pain. It means that as God, come in the flesh, He felt the emotions and the pain perfectly, without filters. It means that He took our mental and emotional grief and mourned over them better than we ever could! He more acutely feels the pain of loss and the hurts caused by sin. His heart more keenly groans at the weight of disease and sickness in a creation that longs for its redemption.
This means that no matter what you are going through today, not only does He see your pain, but He took your pain as His own. He suffered for it perfectly and entirely when He bore the curse of sin on the cross.
Why Does it Matter?
Demonstrating that He indeed is the resurrection and the life, Jesus raised Lazarus up from the tomb! Not only did He raise Lazarus, but after paying for our sin, Jesus Himself was raised, proving that He conquered death and Hell! For those who place their faith in Him, He took every tear as His own to the cross, every sin He bore Himself as if they were His own, and He rose again victorious ensuring that one day every wrong will be made right! He will literally wipe away every tear from your eyes.
Jesus wept…so that one day you never would ever have to weep again.
Until that day, hold tight to the One who sees you and took your tears as His own.
For Further Study:
When God Weeps – by Joni Eareckson Tada
If God is Good – by Randy Alcorn
A Grief Observed – by C.S. Lewis