John 11 – Jesus wept

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Wept_(Jésus_pleura)_-_James_Tissot
James TissotJesus Wept

‘Jesus wept.’ (John 11:34)

Jesus wept But this does not quite capture what Jesus was feeling, in the original, the Greek word translated as wept might be better translated as ‘shuddered with anguish’. Jesus shuddered with anguish as he wept. Real physical emotion that shakes us when we lose someone close.

Jesus wept.  Tears are important.  Pope Francis said

“If you do not know how to weep, you are not a good Christian,”

When we applied to lead our current church, one of the questions at our interview was ‘when was the last time you cried?’  It was a good question to ask, an important question to ask.

How often do you cry, I think our relationship with tears is uncertain in our society and even in our churches.  Tears are more likely to be suppressed than expressed, hidden rather than gathered. And if do end up crying in front of others we feel we have to apologise.  But throughout Christian history tears have held a special place. There was even a practice in Victorian England, where people would collect their tears in little bottles as an expression of mourning for those who had died.    Gathered tears were a sign of their devotion and the pain of separation. Gathered tears were a way of remembering, of paying attention, and of being faithful. An expression of the simple longing to be close to one who was absent.  (Runcorn)

The idea comes from the book of Psalms, where in Psalm 56 the struggling psalmist says:

‘you have kept account my misery; put my tears in your bottle’.

The psalmist found comfort in the conviction that God too collects our tears and keeps a record of the stories of our pain.  

Jesus wept at the death of his friend.  God wept.   We weep and God gathers our tears and holds them, and holds us in His all loving embrace.

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