THE TEARS OF JESUS
By: Dr. R. L. Scarborough
(Contributed by: Jim Elam)
And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. (John 11:34-25)
And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it. (Luke 19:41)
Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear. (Hebrews 5:7)
We find in the first scripture Jesus weeping at the grave of Lazarus. In the second one we find Him weeping over a city which was doomed, having rejected His message. And in the last scripture we find Him shedding tears and offering prayers in the days of His flesh over a ruined world for which He was to die.
The verse in Luke describes His coming to Jerusalem for the last time. He had been out among the people for three and a half years, preaching, teaching, healing and performing many miracles. The blind could see when He touched their eyes; the lame could walk, the dumb could speak, and the dead came up from the grave at His word of authority and power. Still, a few days later, He would be crucified in the city He had come to save. But coming in the morning from the east side, with a great crowd meeting and following Him, praising God in accordance with the promises concern Him, as He came up over the crest of the Mount of Olives, He saw that beautiful city with a wonderful history.
I’m sure, since He knew all things, that there was present in His mind the past history of triumphs, of defeat, of prosperity and adversity. I am sure that He saw with His historic mind the things that had transpired in that city there, where a great people had built a great city, the center of the religious life of the world, where He had trained a race to be His chosen people.
The scriptures tell us that as He looked upon that city, He wept. This Son of God, this Son of man, upon seeing that city, wept bitter, briny tears over what He saw. This is one of the three times in the scriptures when it speaks of the tears of Jesus.
On one prior occasion He stood at the grave of one of His friends, the grave of Lazarus, and wept, joined in the sorrow of loved ones for the man who had been hospitable to Him, a man who He loved. There the Son of man at the gate of death shed tears.
And the other time where it speaks of His tears he prayed unto Him who was able to save Him from death! There in that case, Jesus Christ not only wept over a lost city, but He wept over a lost world.
Now I want us to think for a little while of the weeping Savior – the tears of Jesus Christ.
WHOSE ARE THESE TEARS?
Who is this strong person who has filled all history and yet whom, standing on the crest of a mountain, we see weeping? His heart is torn, and there comes from His eyes and from His heart tears that represent the attitude of His soul toward a lost city and toward the lost world. Who is He? Why, He is the author of our Bible, the Founder of our churches, a Refuge to our souls, the Hope and Resurrection, the Builder of our heaven and the Source and Provider of all our spiritual blessings. The scriptures call Him our Advocate, the Alpha and the Omega of our spiritual life, the Ancient of Days, the Anointed One, the Balm of Gilead for our souls, the Bread of Life for our strength, the Cornerstone and Foundation of our lives, the Commander of God’s Army, the Conqueror over sin and the enemies of God, the Counselor and Wisdom and Guide for our feet, the Dayspring and Morning Star of our hopes.
He is the Founder and Fountain on which we build and from which we drink. He is the Hiding Place for our tempest tossed souls, the High Priest for our communion with God; He is Immanuel, the very presence of the Most High. He is King over kings and Lord over lords. He was the Lamb of God slain from before the foundation of the world as a sacrifice and atonement for our sins.
He is the leader of God’s mightiest hosts, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He it was that was the man of sorrows and was acquainted with grief. He is the Mediator between man and God, the messenger of God’s covenant to a lost world, the Messiah of hope for a coming day of full redemption. He is the Mightiest among the mighty and the loveliest among ten thousand, the Maker and Preserver of our lives and the Savior of our souls. He is the Prince of Life and the Prince of Peace, the Redeemer, the Rock of Ages, the Rose of Sharon, the Scepter of Israel, the Shepherd of God’s sheep.
He is God’s only begotten and most beloved Son; and here on the mountain overlooking Jerusalem, He wept with a heart full of compassion and love for a lost world and establishes here again the doctrine of chief and central and supreme passion of the Gospel wrought out in His ministry and death and intercession for a sin-cursed world. He it is that weeps over our sin and doom and destiny.
This man is the Son of God, is very God Himself. He it is that controls all the things of our lives; and yet yonder in the city where he taught and preached and was soon to be crucified, we see Him shedding the bitterest of tears. He is not some conqueror come to destroy those people. He has come to weep over them and die for them and save them. He it is that is weeping today over a lost world.
WHY THESE TEARS?
Why is it that this Son of man, this Son of God, is weeping over the city of Jerusalem and constantly in the days of His flesh appealed unto God with strong supplication and tears? I say to you, He is not weeping for Himself. He sees the shadow of the cross just ahead of Him; and He sees the dark, unspeakable sorrow of Gethsemane through which He is to go, the cruel crown of thorns which is to be pressed on His head. Doubtless, already he feels the pierce of the nails in His hands and the sword in His side, yet He is not weeping over Himself. He is not weeping like a defeated conqueror. Though in the eyes of the world He lived a life of defeat, He was not weeping because of His own failure or because of any discontent in His heart. Nor was He weeping over that city which through the centuries had been built by the sacrifices and labors of His people. He was weeping because of its reputation, though He saw the ruin of that city about which He here prophesied. He is not weeping for the fallen walls or the ruins of the temple. He was weeping because of what He could already see from the Mount of Olives.
What was it that He saw that caused the tears to come from His eyes? It is that about which I wish to speak to you. I want, if I can, to bring you this day into a sympathetic attitude with Jesus Christ as He stood at the Mount of Olives. I believe He saw three things:
1): He wept because of the spiritual dilemma of man.
In the first place, He wept because He saw the spiritual condition of men. He saw men in their sins. He saw them in the darkness of their unbelief, in the night of their unfaith in Him – sinners, dead in trespasses and sins. He saw the wrath of God on them if the love of God was not in their hearts, and He saw them rejecting the only light come to them. He saw them without hope and without God in the world.
As He looked upon the soul of an unbeliever it is no wonder that it brought tears to His eyes, no wonder that it brought a desire to be crucified for the life and salvation of that individual. The condition of men today ought to bring tears and burdens to the heart of God’s people.
I will tell you, my friends, we need to look into the lives of unsaved men all about us and see their peril and condition before almighty God. Every man and woman and young person in your community without Jesus Christ in his heart by faith is lost and dead in their trespasses and in their sins, is away from God and has no hope. The immoral decay of sin is in every particle of his spirit.
Shall we look at them unmoved after the Son of God shed tears upon seeing the condition of a lost and ruined city? I trust that God’s people, seeing the unsaved people around them today, will join the Savior in weeping over a lost world. I want us in these days to remember the spiritual condition of every man who does not know Jesus Christ.
2): He wept because He knew the eternal destiny of lost men.
I think that another thing that stirred the heart of Jesus was the destiny of men. He, the Son of God, was thinking of where these people were going after death. He saw the place to which they were going when they were carried to the cemeteries. That is the matter that should stir upon our hearts – not what we possess here on earth or how much or how little education we have. It matters not that we die; how little value there is in the bodies of men! My friends, it is the eternal destiny of the soul that is the most important question.
I want us to know that the battle we are fighting here is the battle for the destinies of men. Every unsaved man and woman in our community is going to hell. I don’t know how you feel, but I bless God that there is a heaven for those who believe in Christ. I want us to see the destinies of men and be moved like our Savior was moved.
3): He wept because the people stubbornly refused Him.
There was another thing that stirred the heart of the Savior, and that was their refusal to hear Him. Oh, the saddest thing that can come to the heart of Jesus Christ is to be rejected. I wonder what will be the attitude of the people reading this. Jesus there looked upon that sinning, wicked city. He had wrought among them, yet they had rejected Him. I tell you, there is a demonstration on every hand that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. I wonder what we will do with this demonstration?
THE SAVIOR’S CARE
This incident in the life of the Savior but illustrates the care Jesus has for men. He has shown, not only in His earthly life and sacrificial death, but also in His heavenly ministry for these twenty centuries, how much He cares for men. Even the hairs of our head are numbered, and not a sparrow falls without His loving care. Every detail of our lives is of interest to the Savior, and all those things that make for our salvation and spiritual strength and service for Him are of the deepest concern to His heart.
Does He not show His attitude at Lazarus’ grave that He loves and cares for the suffering loved ones at every grave? Does He not show by the many examples of healing, of raising the dead, of straightening the limbs of the crippled, of opening the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, that He cares for our bodies and our souls? Never a tear falls from a sorrowing widow nor from the penitent soul of the sin-sick sinner that misses the loving care of our Savior.
He has shown it in giving us the Bible with its many promises. He has assured us of it by His multiplied providence’s of loving care. That is the beauty of that great picture on the Mount of Olives. Jesus loves man and has a concern for their salvation. He has shown it in his creative power; in His preserving, providential power; in His earthly ministry; and in His death on Calvary.
You and I should take up the work of Jesus Christ and care for lost men. This is the message that I bring to you today. Do you care for the lost men and women of your community? I wonder how many of you do. Will you stand with Jesus on the Mount of Olives today and say, “We too will weep for our loved ones and join our Savior in caring for their souls.”?
My question for you is, “Do you love lost men?” Oh, that question reigns in my heart today! If we do, God help us to join Jesus Christ in soul-agony for them that we may win to Him. I wonder how many of you can say, “Deep down in my heart I do have a tender, affectionate concern for the unsaved of my community, and I can join with my Savior in a deep compassion for their salvation.”?
Listen to what God says: “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with Him. (Psalms 126:5-6).
God help us to be stirred in our souls for the lost in our community.
I want to tell you how I came across this article: The Tears Of Jesus - from a Christian newspaper. I was typing on my Book of Acts commentary and it was time to quit for the day. I left the table to put some of my papers away before putting my typewriter away. Upon my return to the table I saw this Christian newspaper sitting where my papers were before. I figured the Holy Spirit wanted me to read it, so I picked it up and took it back to my cube and read it. After reading this article I felt compelled to include it at the end of my commentary. This article was written by Dr. L. R. Scarborough (1870-1945). I was greatly moved by this article and I hope that you have been blessed as I was by reading it. – Jim Elam
You can read Jim’s testimony by clicking here: Jim’s testimony
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