DayBreaks for 1/17/18: God’s Face Streaked with Tears
From the DayBreaks archive, January 2008:
This past week, our small town suffered a great loss. A young girl, Courtney, was struck down at the tender age of 16 by Ewing’s sarcoma – a rare form of cancer. She’d become somewhat of a “celebrity” (in a good sense) in our town for her valiant struggle for the past two years. Her death has hit our town hard and made us all again aware of the presence of the last enemy that will someday be destroyed.
Perhaps my favorite chapter of the entire Bible is John chapter 11 – the story of the raising of Lazarus. The emotion of the chapter is intense, the message precious.
First of all, we need to realize that God is a Spirit. Spirits don’t have eyes, arms, legs, backs or beards. Spirits are, well…spirits. Since I’ve never seen one, I can’t tell you what a spirit looks like, but they don’t have bodies per se. And that complicated things for God.
When God wanted us to know what He was like, He couldn’t just come down in His Spirit and show us. (I don’t even know if spirits are visible!) And that’s why the incarnation was so critical. For us to see God, we had to see something in the form of flesh and blood. And that takes us to the story of Lazarus.
The shortest verse in the bible – you know it and can quote it – “Jesus wept.” Perhaps that’s the shortest verse in Scripture because God knew that for the most part, we’re not very good at memorizing Scripture. But I think it’s the shortest verse in Scripture for a different reason: God knew how important it would be to us so He made it a simple verse that we could remember.
As Jesus stood at the grave of his friend, Lazarus, John says that Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” Unlike some political candidates or actors, the tears on Jesus’ face were real, just like ours. They were no act. They tasted salty, just like ours. John saw those tears himself. Think about that. When Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, for what may have been the first and only time, humanity saw tears run down the face of God. And it made such an impression on John that he kept it hidden in his heart until he wrote his gospel and shared it with us.
We needed to know that God weeps with us as we stand at the gravesite. We need to know that He remembers what it felt like to see death take a loved one in its cold, clammy hands. We need to know that God, with tears running down his face over what has become of His creation, steps forward at moments like that and says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” And we certainly need to know that as Jesus stands before the resting place of the dead – the most impenetrable fortress of all – he speaks: “Take away the stone. Lazarus, come forth!”
It says that those last words were spoken with a loud voice. Jesus didn’t whisper into the darkness of the tomb, wondering if he could pull this off. If he hadn’t been sure of his power to do what he was doing, he might have whispered the words where no one could hear – just in case it didn’t work out. But he didn’t. He shouted it out so that everyone would know that he held power over the fortress of death.
And as life returned to Lazarus, I feel sure that the tears disappeared from the face of God, to be replaced with smiles and laughter and eyes that sparkled with delight as his friend came forth from the tomb.
When you weep – remember, God’s face has been streaked with tears. He knows. He understands.
PRAYER: Oh, God, I’m so glad that You have tasted tears. It is beyond precious that You chose to weep in front of us so that we would know Your love for us. When we weep, remind us that You still know, You still feel, You still care. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.