Love, Sorrow and Tears
O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever” (Psa. 107:1), so wrote the Psalmist many many centuries ago. Before we can do so intelligently, it is necessary to establish some personal standard of evaluation. We shall attempt to do this by examining three incidents in the life of the Lord Jesus. In each of these cases extreme mental activity was accompanied by physical reaction.
Tears at Jerusalem
The Lord on a colt led a throng of people toward the city of Jerusalem. As He approached the capital, He stopped and looked down upon her. As He gazed upon the scene, His mind must have recalled that first time as a boy of twelve He became conscious of the greatness of the people who considered this city the unifying centre of their race. He probably reviewed the history of that people: Moses and the Ten Commandments, David and the military conquests, and Solomon and the majesty and wisdom of his God.
The Lord Jesus had moved among this people for over three years. During that period He had searched the very depths of their souls, and in doing so, He beholding them loved them.
As He approached their city that day, His gaze likely turned from the heart of the city to the far side and eventually to the mountain beyond the Northern Gate. Here His eyes would rest upon the hill called Calvary. No doubt when they were fixed there He wept over the city, and said, “If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).
Who at some time has not looked at a person and has seen in him the tremendous potential for good; and, consequently, has loved that man, only to discover on closer examination that his goal in life has not included God, as we have come to know Him in Jesus Christ? What an empty feeling such an experience produces in the heart, a feeling of loss! Yet with that feeling of loss and its recurrence the greater has been the degree of love one has for him. The Lord had the same feeling. His power to analyze people and to evaluate their potential resulted in such love that when they rejected Him, the reaction was such intense suffering that He wept.
Tears at Bethany
The Lord stopped outside of the town of Bethany and waited for Mary whom He called. John reports that “When Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying unto Him, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto Him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how He loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?” (John 11:32-27). In posing that last question those people introduced the problem: Why did Jesus weep because in actual fact He did raise Lazarus from the dead? He wept because Mary and Martha, his friends, had shared the unbelief of others and did not believe that He had the power to bring Lazarus back from the dead. It was their unbelief that caused His tears.
Who has not felt the pain of being misunderstood and of being doubted by one whom he has loved? The amount of pain suffered depends on the amount of our inner being revealed towards that man, the expression of the love that we have shown him. The Lord suffered that same pain, for the inner being that He revealed was so great in character, and the love was so full that when they did not believe in Him, He wept; notwithstanding, that shortly after he accomplished what they did not believe He could do.
Love, Sorrow and Tears in Gethsemane
The night before the Lord was crucified He crossed over the brook Cedron and entered the Garden of Gethsemane in order to spend time in prayer to His Father God. The prayer is recorded by Luke, “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done.” Then follows this descriptive verse, “And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44).
In all humility we must try to understand this prayer and the agony that accompanied it; we are compelled to understand because here the love was manifested toward us as those who were created in the image of God. The extent of that love is measured by the pain experienced in drinking the contents of that cup and by the pain which accompanied the consequences that followed that drinking. The contents of that cup could not be anything else but the sins of the world. In order to bear those sins He must understand them and assume responsibility for their guilt.
Who among us has not looked at some sinful act, and thought about it until it produced pain and occupied a permanent place in our subconscious mind so that every time we thought of that act the same pain gripped the whole person?
The Lord felt that same pain, and because of the fact that all sin was known to Him, and because of His absolute sinlessness He sweat as it were great drops of blood.
As a natural consequence to the drinking of that cup, the Lord was to be forsaken by His Father God. In the Garden He looked ahead to that moment on the following day when that cry would break from His lips, “Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani?” “My God, My God, why halt Thou forsaken Me?”
Who has not felt the pain of separation from one loved to such an extent that he had become part of our very being? Who has not felt that pain become intensified by the realization that he had to face a major decision in his life without the help of that loved one? The Lord felt that same pain especially because of the love between the Father and Son was such that the Lord said, My Father and I are one. Because they had existed from Eternity in this state of unity, that pain was intensified to such an extent that the Lord sweat as it were great drops of blood in Gethsemane.
It is possible to draw certain conclusions from our study that will form the basis for a personal standard for the evaluation of the love of the Lord. The first conclusion is: Love, properly so called, can only be measured in terms of mental suffering. Such suffering was described in the Prophecy of Isaiah with reference to the Christ as “The travail of His soul.” Love that yields no suffering is indefinite and thus cannot be appreciated honestly. The second conclusion is: Mental suffering can only be evaluated by a person who has passed through an experience similar in character, but not necessarily similar in intensity or degree to that experience which resulted in the suffering.
As we understand even a very little more of the sufferings of Christ, may we rejoice in the glory that is to follow these moral sufferings. We cannot enter into the meaning of the vicarious sufferings of Christ, but we know that through them we are healed. As we consider each aspect of the sufferings of our Holy Lord, may we bow in worship and do Him honour who is Love, Light and Life personified.