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THE TEARS OF JESUS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, March 11, 2012

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7).


My subject this evening is “the Tears of Jesus.” The text tells us that Jesus prayed with “strong crying and tears” while He was on earth, “in the days of his flesh.” The prophet Isaiah said that He would be “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). This description shows that Jesus wept many times during His earthly ministry.

“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
   For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
   Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
(“Hallelujah, What a Saviour!” by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876).

Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, surely wept many times. The Bible records three of those occasions, showing us the compassion of His loving heart.

I. First, Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus.

When Jesus came to Bethany His friend Lazarus was already dead. They had buried him four days earlier. The dead man’s sister went out to meet Jesus. “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” (John 11:33-36).

Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead, yet He wept, along with Mary and the others. Dr. John R. Rice said,

Why did Jesus weep? He knows that in a few minutes He will call Lazarus out of the grave...Oh, but He weeps for the tears of Mary and Martha and others. He weeps with all the broken hearts in the world. He weeps with every mother who loves her [dead] baby, every husband who stands at the casket of his wife. He weeps with every mother or father who weeps in the night over a prodigal boy or wayward girl...But those tears are for me, too, and for you, and all who have trouble and sorrow in this world...He is troubled with our troubles...He enters into every sorrow (John R. Rice, D.D., The Son of God, Sword of the Lord, 1976, p. 233).

The Bible tell us to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15). Dr. Rice said, “We cannot think that Jesus would do less than we are commanded to do. What a wonderful truth that Jesus weeps with us over all of our sorrows...He must have wept many other times over sinners, and since the Scripture mentions a number of times that Jesus was ‘moved with compassion,’ we may well imagine a tear in His pure eye that represented a sorrow and compassion in His heart” (Rice, ibid.).

When I was fifteen years old my dear grandmother died. How I loved her! When she died I went to her kitchen and took a vine she had. I have kept that vine with me for 56 years. Wherever I moved, I always took it with me. It is now on the study desk, in my home. I am looking at it as I write this sermon. I promised “Mom” that I would always keep it with me, as long as I live, to remind me of her. I loved her so!

Many a night, when I could not sleep, I went to her bed as a little boy, put my head on her chest, and listened to her heart beat, while I waited for sleep to come. I loved her so!

I stood at her grave and began to weep. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I ran up a hill. I ran and ran and ran through the graveyard. I fell on the ground weeping and groaning. And God came down to me, as He came to Jacob in the wilderness, and I could have said with him, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not” (Genesis 28:16).

Oh, young person, Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus! And He weeps for you tonight! Jesus knows your sorrows and your fears! I plead with you – I beg you – come to Him who loves you with an everlasting love!

He loves so long, He loves so well,
   He loves you more than tongue can tell;
He loves so long, He loves so well,
   He died to save your soul from Hell.
(“He Loves You Still” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said,

There is no mention in the Bible of Jesus ever laughing, but He was often observed weeping. In this case, He was sharing the grief of Mary and Martha, for He too loved Lazarus, but He also “groaned in the spirit, and was troubled” (John 11:33) at the very existence of death and...sin by which death reigned (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishers, 1995 edition, p. 1154; note on John 11:35).

He loves so long, He loves so well,
   He loves you more than tongue can tell;
He loves so long, He loves so well,
   He died to save your soul from Hell.

II. Second, Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “He wept over the city of Jerusalem. Since He wept over Jerusalem at that time, I am sure He has wept many times over the cities in which you and I live” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume V, p. 540, note on Hebrews 5:7).

“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).

He wept as He thought of the terrible destruction that would fall on Jerusalem in 70 A.D., when the Roman general Titus would level the city and slaughter its inhabitants without mercy. Jesus wept because He knew that the beautiful temple of God would be utterly destroyed in Jerusalem. Nothing would be left but a piece of a wall that ran along the side of the temple. I stood at that wall and touched it. I wept as Jesus did while I stood at the Wailing Wall. I wept as I thought of the terrible persecution that God’s people, the Jews, have gone through across the centuries.

Oh, how Jesus weeps tonight over the cities of the world, filled with teeming millions of unsaved souls! How He weeps over Washington and London, Paris and Berlin, Calcutta and Beijing, Glasgow and Sydney, Mexico City and Saigon, Vientiane and Rangoon, Jakarta and Moscow – and all the cities of the world, great and small! May our hearts be broken with the things that break the heart of God!

And the tears of Jesus move us, as nothing else can, to preach the Gospel to every creature. His tears move us to add language after language to our website – to reach as many as we can with the Gospel. We do not come as “colonists” to impose our culture on them! No! We come as broken hearted followers of Jesus – to share His love with them, His love which saved us from sin, death and Hell! And we say to all who hear this sermon, or read it, on our website,

He loves so long, He loves so well,
   He loves you more than tongue can tell;
He loves so long, He loves so well,
   He died to save your soul from Hell.

And the tears of Jesus move us to evangelize Los Angeles as well! For He told us,

“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).

III. Third, Jesus wept in the Garden of Gethsemane.

That is the third record of Him weeping. Oh, the tears He shed there in the darkness of that garden! Our text tells us of Jesus,

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7).

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before He was nailed to the Cross, Jesus prayed alone. There in the darkness of Gethsemane, the Saviour poured out His soul in prayer to God. He prayed “with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7). What did He fear? I believe that Jesus feared that He would die there in the Garden, before He could go to the Cross to atone for our sins. Dr. John R. Rice said, “Jesus prayed that the cup of death would pass from Him that night so He could live to die on the cross the next day” (Rice, ibid., p. 441). Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, a famous theologian, said the same thing. He said that “[Jesus] prayed for deliverance from death in the garden, in order that He might accomplish His purpose on the cross. This interpretation would harmonize with Hebrews 5:7, and it seems to me the only interpretation which will thus harmonize” (J. Oliver Buswell, Ph.D., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, Zondervan Publishing House, 1971, part III, p. 62).

Dr. Buswell and Dr. Rice agreed with Dr. McGee, who said, “My friend, He was heard; He did not die in the Garden of Gethsemane” (ibid.).

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7).

The sins of the world were placed on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:41-44).

Jesus was in great agony as our sins were placed on Him by God. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Dr. McGee said, “Our Lord was near death as He approached the cross, and He prayed to be delivered from death so He could reach the cross. And we are told that He ‘was heard in that he feared’” (ibid.). God heard Jesus praying “with strong crying and tears” there in the darkness of Gethsemane. God sent an angel to strengthen Him so He could go to the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Joseph Hart spoke of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden in one of his hymns,

See the suffering Son of God,
   Panting, groaning, sweating blood!
Boundless depths of [grace] divine!
   Jesus, what a love was Thine!
(“Thine Unknown Sufferings” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

See how Jesus loves you! See Him in tears over your sorrow! See Him weeping over sinners in the city! See Him “crying with tears” in Gethsemane, pleading with God to let Him live, so He could go to be crucified, nailed to a cross, the next day to pay the penalty for our sins! Does this not move you? If Jesus’ tears do not move you, what will? Are you so hardened by sin that you cannot feel His love for you? I remember the first time I heard Dr. Watts’ hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” It moved me then, and it moves me now.

When I survey the wondrous cross,
   On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
   And pour contempt on all my pride.

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
   Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
   Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
   That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
   Demands my soul, my life, my all.
(“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

I plead with you this evening – believe in Jesus! Come to Him! Fall before Him! Trust Him with all your being! Say with Dr. Watts, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” Benjamin Beddome was a little Baptist preacher in the 18th century. We would not know of him today if he had not written a hymn called “Did Christ O’er Sinners Weep?”

Did Christ o’er sinners weep,
   And shall our cheeks be dry?
Let floods of penitential grief
   Burst forth from every eye.

The Son of God in tears
   Angels with wonder see!
Be thou astonished, O my soul,
   He shed those tears for thee.

He wept that we might weep;
   Each sin demands a tear:
In heaven alone no sin is found
   And there’s no weeping there.
(“Did Christ O’er Sinners Weep?” by Benjamin Beddome, 1717-1795).

I have seen two revivals, two unusual moves of God. Both times people burst into tears as they came under deep conviction of sin. We see that in China today. It is always true in real revival. “He wept that we might weep; each sin demands a tear.” Oh, may you be convicted of sin tonight! May you come to the weeping Saviour! He will save you! He will save you! He will save you now!

If you could have seen Him coming from the Garden of Gethsemane, weeping and dripping with Blood, do you think you could have trusted Him? Oh, then, trust Him now! He is the same Jesus tonight that He was back then! Behold how He loves you! He comes to you with love in His hands! Believe in Him. Trust Him and you will be saved in that very moment! He will pardon thy sins and give thee eternal life!

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 22:39-45.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“He Loves You Still” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE TEARS OF JESUS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7).

(Isaiah 53:3)

I.   First, Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, John 11:33-36;
Romans 12:15; Genesis 28:16.

II.  Second, Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem,
Luke 19:41-44; 14:23.

III. Third, Jesus wept in the Garden of Gethsemane,
Hebrews 5:7; Luke 22:41-44.