In the Word we find the words ‘weep’ and ‘weeping’ mentioned 96 times, ‘wept’ 69 times, ‘tears’ 36, along with many additional instances of crying and sadness. Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” God’s joy always comes to us, yet, in every life there are moments of pain and tears… and Jesus’s life, sadly, was no exception.
Times Our Savior Wept:
Of all the tears ever shed on the earth, none had the power or purity that Jesus’ did. John 11:35 simply says, “Jesus wept.” And while it is one of the shortest verses of the Word—a mere two words—it holds more power than can be imagined.
That the God of all creation should take a part of Himself, His Son, and set Him on the face of the earth is amazing enough. That the Father would allow His Son to take the weight of every sin and curse in order to restore us back to Him is unfathomable. Yet, how often do we consider the tears of our Savior? Have we ever pictured His face, tears streaming down, not from physical pain, but from an anguish we ourselves can only know through Him? Perhaps that of the Spirit speaking to Him of how far we were from our Father? Or, of the world with such potential, yet, set in a cycle of sin and suffering…
“Jesus wept.”—John 11:35
Of all the times we read in the Word that Jesus expressed great sorrow, the one we most think of was when He went up to the Mount of Olives, into the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed to God, asking Him to take the cup of suffering if possible, yet making it plain that His desire was only to answer the Father’s heart. It was there we are told, that at that time and place, being greatly sorrowful and deeply distressed, Jesus was in such intense agony of spirit that His sweat became as great drops of blood falling to the ground. Further, some even preach that Jesus wept.
“… ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’ He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’”—Matthew 26:38-39
“And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”—Luke 22:44
That picture, for us, is perhaps the most powerful, as after all, it was there Jesus prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice. Not simply in terms of pain and death, but in going into the pit of hell to restore us. And the tears of our Savior—His sorrow—are NEVER without purpose. The writer of Hebrews states:
“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, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”—Hebrews 5:7-9
Yet, while the Garden scene is most powerful, it was not the only time Jesus displayed great sorrow or tears. There were two other times the Word says that Jesus wept during His ministry—three total if we include the Garden prayer. Three times before He was denied three times; three times before He was laid in a tomb for three days; three times before He restored Peter by asking Him three times if Peter loved Him more than these and to feed His sheep.
The first time Jesus wept during His ministry was when Lazarus had died and Jesus witnessed the sorrow of Lazarus’ family and those near. In that moment Jesus wept. Jesus felt the sorrow of His people, understanding their pain in the natural—though He sought the Father and would raise Lazarus not long after His tears dried.
Jesus was moved with compassion; He loved and wept not because He was despairing or even saddened at Lazarus’ passing—after all, He knew what was on the other side of death—but because He felt the Father’s heart toward His children. He was moved by the tears of God’s children, and being moved, He wept.
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after… said to the disciples… ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’
… ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’ However, Jesus spoke of his death…
“Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.’
“Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying… ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’
“Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled… ‘Where have you laid him?’
“… ‘Lord, come and see.’
—John 11:5-7, 11-15, 32-35
This, the death of Lazarus before Jesus’ raised Him, was the first time Jesus is told to have wept during His ministry, but it would not be the last. For He would weep for Jerusalem and her people—tears highly personal in the Spirit—as He foresaw what the blindness that had descended would bring. Destruction.
In Luke 13, Jesus lamented over Jerusalem, speaking of His love for her and the people, but also His sorrow at their unwillingness to change; to be led by Him and brought into His fold.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”—Luke 13:34-35
Yet, it is not until Luke 19 that Jesus actually weeps over Jerusalem. As the time for His restoring us through the cross grew nearer, the full force of what Jerusalem was doing in their blindness tore the heart of our Savior—though He understood that blindness had been allowed by His Father to save the world. He knew that even after He rose again, the city as a unified whole would not change, and its people—His people—would suffer for a time because of it.
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.’”—Luke 19:41-44
However, while Jesus wept for the city and her people, it was not in anger or despair, but love—for neither He, nor His Father, nor the Holy Spirit desired any to perish. He understood the grand scheme of things. He did not delight in the destruction of His creation, but their free will would not be denied. And while blindness in part was allowed, they still had the choice to follow Him… and many took it. The blood, sweat, and tears of our Savior.
Jesus’ final time of sorrow we well know; when Jesus, on the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane, prepared for His time as the ultimate Passover lamb. In those moments He wept not for fear of physical pain, but for the pain of His Spirit; the groanings of the Spirit over a fallen world, over the pain of creation’s folly.
When Jesus cried out on the Mount of Olives indeed, He prayed that if there was another way… but even as He did, His sorrowful agony was not from fear or doubt… instead, from knowing that He would endure every effect of sin, every moment where the connection with His Father was not as usual—for our sins were placed upon Him.
Now, you may say, “God never leaves us, nor forsakes us,” and you would be right. However, when sin rests upon us there is almost a wet blanket upon the fire of the Holy Spirit. It smokes instead of flaming, for the weight of sin rests upon the Spirit—the Spirit which allows us to know the will of our Father, to listen clearly to His voice…
God does not leave us in those moments, but when our Temples are not pure the connection is soiled; as if there were wires connecting us to Him, fully rusted over.
So, “Jesus wept.” He wept for us. He wept for what He knew was to come. He prepared the soil of our hearts, softening the ground with His tears, and cleansing it—giving it sustenance—with His Blood.
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”—1 John 4:8
Three is an important number in the Word. It relates to increase, but it also relates to God—the three in one. That Jesus is shown to have experienced such great sorrow and tears, three times during His three years of ministry is important. It is confirmation as well as preparation for the three days He would spend in the grave—going into the pit of hell so that He might take the keys to the shackles we placed upon ourselves and free us.
Today Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father. He makes the case for our restoration, lends ear to our pleas, and awaits the day He will reign in Jerusalem. Yet, each time He cried, each tear shed, was preparation not only for all that, but for the soil of our hearts, the walls of our Temples.
Jesus, through His tears and Blood, washed us so that we might be restored to Him. As such, we should not only remember every tear of our Savior, and every drop of His Blood, but also seek Him. Search to know Jesus, our Father, and the Holy Spirit, utilizing the access He granted as we do that which He asked Peter when He restored Him… feed His sheep.
He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’
“And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’
“Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’”—John 21:17