The Tears of Christ
Sermon delivered at the Moody Tabernacle by Evangelist C.P. Meeker.
My text tonight is three verses of Scripture. They are taken from various parts of the New Testament. These three verses refer to the way the Lord Jesus Christ was affected as he moved among men. They have to do with the tears of Christ.
That does not mean that I am going to preach a sermon tonight calculated to cause you to weep. I do trust there may be many that will weep over their sin, but I want tonight as God may enable me, to give you some glimpses as to God’s thought and God’s concern about you—about the unsaved, about the sinner.
While the Lord was walking to and from among men, He was peculiarly affected by what He saw and by His contact with men.
These three passages have a direct message concerning the heart of the Son of God, as to His attitude toward men in sin.
The first of these is the shortest verse in the Bible. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
The second to which I wish to call your attention, and in the order I wish to speak, is found in Hebrews 5:7. “Who, in the days of His flesh, having offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and having been heard for His godly fear.”
The other passage is found in Luke, and comes at the very close of the Master’s life. “And when He drew nigh He saw the city and wept over it.” Why? Because thou knowest not the time of thy visitation.
These tears of the Lord Jesus Christ reveal four things.
His Love is Revealed
First, they reveal His love. Enmity, hatred, jealousy never weeps. You do not find the enemy of another weeping over the misery of that other person; they gloat over it. You do not find one hating another weeping over any ill fortune that might come to the person they hate. That is what they delight to see, but when one loves another, they are deeply affected by the condition of that other person, and when anything comes into the life of that person that brings trouble or sorrow or pain, love weeps and love sympathizes, and love pities, and these tears reveal the love of Jesus.
Tears do not always tell genuineness. Tears are sometimes fictitious, and they are sometimes counterfeit, but that is very rare. You remember when Jesus Christ met Mary and Martha, and they came to Him weeping and saying, “Hadst Thou been here our brother would not have died.” It is said Jesus lifted up His face and wept, and those who stood by looking on said, “Behold, how He loved him!” and the very tears that He shed was proof of the genuineness of His sympathy.
So the tears of our Lord Jesus Christ are a proof of the genuineness of His sympathy toward mankind. Then they reveal His grief for man’s guilt and blindness and death. In each case, these tears are associated with one of those three things—Guilt, Blindness, Death.
God’s Estimate of Sin
Then they reveal God’s thought or estimate of sin. God does not consider sin to be a little matter. It was something that broke the heart of the Son of God, and I cannot understand how we can make a mockery of sin these days—the thing that curses and damns the soul.
The tears of the Lord Jesus Christ reveal His estimate of sin. It was something to weep over. It is a sad commentary on the Church of Jesus Christ when it has lost its tears.
Colonel Clark was not very eloquent in speech, but was truly eloquent in love. He wept over the sinner. When he met a sinner and spoke to him his heart would melt, and the tears would stream down his face. One day Mr. Clark went into room number twelve at the Pacific Garden Mission and asked God to dry up his tears, that he thought them an evidence of weakness, and the spring of his tears was quenched, and then he lost his power. He spoke to men and they no longer gave attention. They dropped back into their chairs and fell asleep.
It was not very long before Colonel Clark found his greatest asset in soul-winning was his tears. The greatest asset of soul-winning in the Church is sympathy and love. The Colonel went back to room twelve and cried out, “Oh God, give me back my tears!”
Joy in Religion
These tears of the Lord Jesus Christ show us the divine estimate of sin. There is a tradition that the Lord never smiled. I have no interest in inviting people into a religion that is like a funeral procession. I have a joy and peace that passeth understanding, and I have that to offer every soul in sin.
Jesus Christ had a joy that was conscious, and deep and full and complete, and it is said in the book of Hebrews, “Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame.” Thank God, there was a joy set before Him, and there was a joy in His soul, and all the efforts of Satan and the awful groans of this world could not take that joy from Him. He says, “These things have I spoken unto you that My joy might remain in you.” He had some joy to pass on. “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Thank God, we have a joyful religion. Our religion causes the joy-bells of the soul to continuously ring. We are not asking anybody to come into a life that is void of pleasure and happiness, and the Lord Jesus Christ, though it may be that he never smiled, nevertheless had a joy, and He wants that joy fulfilled in His disciples.
When we come to God and surrender our heart to Him, and have all sin cleansed out, we are just getting ready to enjoy life, and the blessings of the life that now is, and that life that is to come.
Reality of Sin
I know one thing. The Lord Jesus Christ never acted a lie. I know that He was perfectly sincere, and I know that He never tried to veneer or tinsel or camouflage. He was always His real self, and if His attitude toward sin and toward death was such as caused Him to weep, He was genuine and sincere.
I want to say that you can look into those sins you have and you can find nothing to laugh about. People make a mockery of sin, but Jesus never did. He was in an enemy’s country. He was outside His element. Everything jarred His sensitive soul. He had the power of appreciation that you and I know nothing about.
On one occasion He just drew back the curtain for a moment and gave us a glimpse into that which He was constantly able to see, and showed us the condition of the lost, but God has veiled our eyes from that. I read on one occasion when Mr. Spurgeon was speaking on that text, “My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?” he felt like a lost man: he felt like he was in hell in spirit.
The Lord Jesus Christ had immediate access to the underworld, and then He had ears to hear what God had withheld from you and I—the groans of a world that was travailing in pain. You and I cannot hear that. He can hear the wail of the lost. I do not wonder that the Lord Jesus Christ might not have smiled. There are times when the Church ought to be weeping over the same things that made Jesus weep.
He was here to save a lost world; He could not save a lost world as easy as He could make it. No! It is said, He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin. Thank God, He was without sin. In all our afflictions He was afflicted. Thank God that we have such a Saviour.
Dimensions of God’s Love
During those awful times of bloodshed when it seemed like France was filled with a frenzy to stamp out religion, a godly bishop of Paris was put into a cell, awaiting execution. This cell had a window in the shape of a cross, and after the bishop had been removed and the attendants were looking about, their eyes were attracted to the window. On each of the crossbeams forming the window, the bishop had inscribed these words, HEIGHT, DEPTH, LENGTH, BREADTH. That cross represented the height and depth and length and breadth of the love of God.
I thank God when I look upon that tear-stained face of Jesus, I see something of the height and breadth and length and depth of the love of God that passeth knowledge. His love for a lost world!
A number of years ago when Dr. Torrey was with the Institute, one of the students reported that they had had a wonderful time at the Pacific Garden Mission that night, and that twenty-eight or thirty had been saved. The students talked so much about it that Dr. Torrey made up his mind on the first occasion he would ask Harry Monroe about the meeting. Shortly after, he met Harry and asked him about the meeting. Monroe said, “It pleased God the other night to reveal the tear-stained face of Jesus, and it just broke the hearts of men.”
We shall take up the three lines of thought in my discourse.
First: His sorrow over death.
Second: His sorrow over sin and guilt.
Third: His sorrow over Blindness.
Sorrow Over Death
His sorrow over death. Where He stood before the grave of Lazarus, with those two sorrowing sisters. Death had broken up their home, and had robbed that home of a beloved brother, and Jesus saw something in death to weep over.
There are a great many beautiful things about death. Death is spoken of as a dreamless sleep. It is spoken of as the threshold of eternity. It is spoken of as the vestibule of immortality. The Word of God never speaks of death in any other way than to show that death is an enemy. There never would have been any death in this world if sin had not entered, and death came because of sin.
The Bible does not have anything very beautiful to say about death. The grim reaper has made this old world a graveyard. Death is a curse according to the Word of God. It is a blight and a curse. It is a judgment in itself, and judgment follows it, for after death the judgment.
Death disgraces society. Death disgraces business. Death disgraces the home. Death is a cruel intruder. It never makes any exception; it is no respecter of persons. It never asks favors. It never grants favors. It never apologizes for coming into the home and snatching away the bread-winner. It never makes any apology for coming into the home and taking the little beam of sunshine from the arms of the mother.
Death is the irrevocable fixture of destiny. It is the end of all hope. If hope has not been obtained before death, it never will after. In Revelation, about the last thing the Word of God says, “Let him that is filthy be filthy still, let him that is unjust be unjust still, and let him that is righteous be righteous still, and let him that is holy be holy still.” As the tree falls, there it shall be. So death irrevocably fixes destiny. I do not wonder that Jesus wept as He stood in the presence of death.
Sorrow Over Human Guilt
He wept over guilt and sin. Hebrews 5:7, “Who, in the days of His flesh having offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and having heard for His godly fear.” This passage refers to His agony in the garden. It was there that the Lord Jesus Christ wept over human guilt and sin. It came upon Him with all its awfulness and terror.
If you want to know what caused His fear and much of His agony, it was that that frail body of His would not be able to endure all the indignities incident to the crucifixion; the mock trials, the scourgings. But God did span the mighty gulf at Calvary.
Another thing that caused that agony is the fact that Jesus Christ shrank from the ordeal of being separated from God, a thing which had never happened from all eternity until that moment. While He was voluntarily becoming sin for us—He who knew no sin—God was turning His face from Him, and that was the thing that made Him cry out on the cross, “My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Yes, He did that for you; He did that for me, and I rejoice!
There are two things about sin that ought to make all of us want to get rid of sin, and from the very depths of our souls we ought to want to have sin taken out of our lives, and that is the tears and sweat of Jesus Christ, and the blood and agony of Calvary over your sin and my sin.
On Calvary He suffered agony, and at the crucifixion He shed every drop of His precious blood for sin. Sin has the tears and the blood of Jesus upon it, and we ought to be willing to get rid of it for that reason. May God give us a shrinking from sin tonight.
He wept over human blindness and rejection as He was coming from the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem, during that last eventful week on Earth. His soul was full of sorrow because He knew what was about to take place. He could almost see the mobs in the streets and hear the tramping of the Roman soldiers.
There is a time of merciful visitation, and every soul must face that merciful visitation. Oh, those words, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Sinner friend, let me say, Jesus is standing outside your heart-door and knocking importunately tonight. Don’t leave this Tabernacle tonight until you have settled the question of your eternal salvation.
Israel was blind to the signs of the times. Israel was blind to the things that Jesus said. How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathered her chickens, Jesus said, but you would not. Oh, that no man here tonight will be so blind as to reject the offers of divine mercy, and go out of this house unsaved.
You may look back and say, yes, I might have been saved on the fifteenth of January, 1922 in the Moody Tabernacle, if I had yielded to the pleading of the Spirit of God; if I had yielded to the Lord Jesus Christ. Grant that that sorrow may be spared you both in Earth and in hell.
A Lost World
If would be well if the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ should become excited over the lost condition of the world. It would do well for every Christian to be excited over every soul in here tonight that is lost, and that you would be so excited that you would go to them with tears of pleading that they might come to God tonight. It is a matter to get deeply excited over, that people are lost. We ought to get before them and stand in their way, so that they would have to trample over our sins if they go on in sin. Oh, that the Church of Jesus Christ might get excited and enthused over a lost world!
My dear hearers, may God grant tonight that no one will turn from the pleading voice of God. I trust that we will make up our minds that we are not going out of the door of this Tabernacle until we settle the question of our soul’s salvation.