Thursday, July 23, 2009
When I was growing up I attended a small church with my family. The small church shared a pastor with another church. Sometimes when the pastor wasn’t there for the mid week prayer service those in attendance would recite a favorite text. Being somewhat of a smart alec, I thought it was amusing to say that my favorite verse was John 11:35 – “Jesus wept”.
As I have been studying recently, it has actually become a favorite verse of mine. I believe the simple words, “Jesus wept,” may reveal as much about Jesus as any other words ever said about him.
I’m sure that you remember the story of Lazarus. When he became ill, his sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, the one you love is very sick.” Jesus chose to wait until Lazarus had died before he came. We read the story in John 11:33-35. “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, he was moved with indignation and was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept”.
Let me ask you a question? Why did Jesus weep? Was it because of his love for Lazarus? He knew Lazarus would be alive in a few minutes. Jesus was crying because of the grief of his friends. He was moved by their sorrow. Jesus is painfully aware of your suffering. When you cry He is aware. Psalms 56:8 tells us, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
There is one other place in the Bible where it tells us that Jesus cried. We find it in Luke 19:41 - “But as they came closer to Jerusalem and Jesus saw the city ahead, he began to cry”.
Why was Jesus crying? Was he crying for a city? At first glance it seems that he was crying because he knew that this city would be destroyed. I think that Luke 13:34 gives us some insight into this story. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!
Jesus was crying for the people of Jerusalem. He had come to save them, but so many were not willing to be saved. Even though they had rejected him and his salvation, he had compassion on them.
Should Jesus be our example? I hope that you want to follow Jesus, by following his example. If we are to follow the example of Jesus, how should we relate to sinners? We should have compassion. It seems to me that many Christians have lost their compassion. As I look around I don’t always see Christians dealing with others with compassion. I am more apt to see hate than compassion.
I don’t want to meddle, but maybe I will just a little bit. Just think about a few of the hot button topics of our day and see what your response is toward the following groups. Gays, Muslims, Adulterers, Abortionists, Thieves, Drug Dealers, Prostitutes, Atheists, etc.
Do you have compassion on them, or is your response something different? Can you hate someone when you are praying for their salvation?
Following the example of Jesus and having compassion on sinners is very liberating. It allows us to leave the judging up to God while we practice the self-sacrificing love He demonstrated on the cross. It allows us to hold ourselves to a high moral standard without feeling that we must hate those who do not see things the way we do.
We should love the "sinner" as Christ loved us sinners and, by our own conduct and communication, model a better way. When we uplift the right and the good, sin will appear in its true colors. However, if we do not model the love of Christ and give no evidence of His power in our lives, no amount of argument will induce the "sinner" to give up his sin. Holding a sign that says “God Hates You” is not an effective way to witness to sinners.
Let’s follow the example of Jesus and love sinners and hate the sin in our own lives. John, the disciple that Jesus loved, tells us in 1 John 4:8 “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love”.