Sobbing with the Son
by Joseph Franks
What makes me cry?
Well, I do weep at certain weddings and funerals. I also tear up when I am about to leave my wife for an extended period of time. My eyes get moist when I see my children prospering — athletically, academically, professionally, or spiritually, and I have a tendency to lose it on Sunday mornings when I am singing a song, baptizing a friend, seeing someone come to know Christ, or pronouncing a final benediction. Sure, there are some rare occasions when I tear up watching a movie or experiencing a ball game. But sadly, I rarely cry over my personal sin, my church’s sin, my lost community, or those suffering around the world.
Yes, for better and for worse, my tears teach me something. They show me those things that are most important to my heart. They also show me those things that touch me not in my inner being.
What makes you cry?
Is it when you attend weddings and see that precious lady walking down the aisle? Are you intensely patriotic, and do you tear up at the displaying of the colors and the singing of the National Anthem? Perhaps you most weepy at the birth of your child or grandchildren? You might even be that over-the-top sports fan who cries in your beer when your favorite franchise ends their playoff run? And I know some of you are intense animal lovers — you are those whose souls are knit with Sara McLachlan and together you mourn over chained dogs, not-neutered cats, and animals who are forced to eat inorganic food?
For better or worse, your tears should teach you something. They are external indicators of your internal affections. Your tears show those things most important to your heart. Their absence also show those things that touch not your inner being.
What makes Jesus cry?
And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:28-44)
It is a time of glee: Jesus is heading towards the Royal City, and he is surrounded by a festive crowd. They love his teaching. They are fascinated by his miracles — most recently the ones performed in Jericho and Bethany. (Jn. 12:17-18) Jesus’ ministry momentum has never been higher; he is surrounded by a very enthusiastic crowd. And on this day, he determines to publicly present himself as the promised Messianic King. On this spring day, in accordance with Old Testament promises; he orchestrates his own worship parade. (Gen. 49:8-12; Zech. 9:1-17) Jesus sends his men to obtain his unridden donkey. Upon their return, his disciples take off their cloaks and adorn the colt. Many more spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut down palm branches and lay them before the King’s entourage. (Matt. 21:8) The throng then begins to worship the Father and his Son. They declare, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David.” Boldly and clearly they declare him to be the King of Israel. (Ps. 113-118; Matt. 21:8; Mk. 11:10; John 12:13) By the time Jesus reaches Jerusalem, the entire city is lit up. Even Jesus’ enemies must acknowledge his success, “The whole world seems to be going after him.” (Matt. 21:10; Jn. 12:19)
There is a flow of tears: Jesus, as he draws near to Jerusalem, weeps. He becomes the sobbing Son. Why does Jesus lose it on the happiest of occasions as he enters his Holy City?
Jesus cries over the sin of men: The Son of God is overtaken with emotion as he sees his rebellious citizens. He is the Son of God. He is the King. He is the Prince of Peace, and they are about to ignore, debate, slander, scheme, strike deals, betray, arrest, torture, strip, mock, and crucify him. Then they will continue by denying his resurrection and persecuting those who worship the Risen King. He sees their sin. He sees their depravity, and it causes him to weep.
Jesus cries over the symptoms of sinful men: As a consequence of their sin, they are missing their day of God’s salvific visitation, and they are about to experience the day of God’s judgmental visitation. Looking ahead, Jesus sees that in a few decades these citizens will be dead or devastated, and his Holy City will be completely destroyed. And not only them, but their children will greatly suffer as well. This causes him to weep.
Oh Friends, will we cry with Jesus?
If Jesus cries over our sins, should not we weep, wail, and moan as well? Should we not tear up over the sinfulness of sin? But this is not normally the case for us. We are not rightly torn up over our depraved hearts and habits. We are not teary over our harm of God’s glory and our neighbors. Even when we do repent of our transgressions, we are not as contrite and troubled as we ought to be. We are forced to see ourselves as did our Puritan forefathers who “repented of their repentance.” Dear friends, consider how would we enjoy and glorify God better if the Holy Spirit more intensely touched our hearts and heads. Therefore, today, let this be one of our chiefest prayers — that alongside Jesus we might cry more over our self-worship and idolatry. Believers in Jesus Christ, ongoing conviction of sin is a sweet blessing from the Lord. Let us pray that our loving God might bless us with a troubled conscience that quickly leads us to Gospel joy and improved worship. It is very good for us to hate sin so much that we weep. It is very good to cry with Jesus over our sins.
Then, if Jesus cries over the symptoms of sin, should not we also cry with him over these consequences? All about us is the curse of Adam; all are plagued with planetary, vocational, relational, physical, emotional, and spiritual issues. Therefore, let us ask the Lord to touch our hearts. Let us ask Him that we might be tender as He is tender. Friends, pray that the Holy Spirit might cause us to more regularly weep over the devastation experienced in our own flesh, family, church, community, and world. We need some increased internal brokenness. So together, let us beseech God that our hearts will be broken by the broken bodies, broken emotions, broken vows, broken marriages, broken families, broken governmental systems, broke people, and broken souls about us. Oh that the Holy Spirit would inflame our hearts with love for the city. Like Jesus, may we weep for the lost who are loathing in sin and its symptoms.
And then, as the Holy Spirit inflames our hearts and moistens our eyes, we will find ourselves more inclined to march into the broken city, serve our Heavenly Father, and sacrifice for those broken souls for whom we have cried.