As I sit at my computer this morning to write, it is Good Friday and the Easter weekend is approaching. My granddaughters are still asleep, and the house is quiet. My sister and her family are here for a visit. I’m looking forward to a great weekend.
Because of the Easter season, I have been thinking about the final week of Jesus' life. One of the stories that I remember from that final week is of Jesus crying for the city of Jerusalem. If He cried over the city of Jerusalem, can you imagine how He is crying over the world today?
When I was growing up, I attended a small church in Fort Lupton, Colorado 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 take turns reciting a favorite text. Being somewhat of a smart aleck, 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 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 (NLT). “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within Him, and He was deeply troubled. ‘Where have you put him?’ He asked them. They told him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Then Jesus wept.”
Let me ask you a question. Why did Jesus cry? 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. Their sorrow moved him. Jesus is painfully aware of your suffering. When you cry, He is aware. Psalms 56:8 (NLT) 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 (ICB). “Jesus came near Jerusalem. He saw the city and began to cry for it.” Why was Jesus crying? Was He crying for a city? I think that Luke 13:34 (NLT) gives us some insight into this story. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”
Jesus was crying for the people of Jerusalem. He had come to save them, but most were not willing to be saved. Even though they had rejected him and his salvation, He had compassion on them.
As Christians our example is Jesus. 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 a little bit. 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. Do you have compassion for them, or is your response something different? Can you hate someone while you are praying for their salvation? Should we hate someone that Jesus loves and was willing to die for?
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.
A very popular catchphrase in Christianity is, "What Would Jesus Do?" WWJD is found on jewelry, emblazoned on bumper stickers and has made its way into popular culture. The only way to determine what Jesus would do is by learning what Jesus did. Romans 5:8 (NKJV) tell us that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus cried for a city of sinners who rejected him. He asked his Father to forgive those who tortured and killed him. We should love the sinner as Christ loved us sinners and by our conduct and words, 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.
Gentle Reader, 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 (NKJV) that “he who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”