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He Wept, We Weep

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it ...(Lk. 19:41, NIV).

We can look at the vista before us and see a greater purpose, but for now, “we weep.”


Similarly, as Jesus approached Jerusalem and gazed upon the city, “he wept over it.” Earlier, when called to Lazarus’s tomb, and in the midst of tremendous sorrow (and in the presence of Mary and her companions weeping), “Jesus wept” (Jn. 11:33-35).


Perhaps the greatest common denominator of our humanity is expressed through our tears. It is our collective ability “to weep, to wail, to mourn, and to grieve,” and then, in small and gradual steps, to show our resolve to proceed towards a greater future.


And so, “we weep” at the headlines that have recently filled our electronic screens. A week ago, a gunman claimed the lives of eight individuals in Atlanta. And then on Monday, much closer to home, we witnessed the assault at a King Soopers in Boulder in which ten individuals were shot and killed.


Some of us have shopped at that particular store. The rest of us have shopped at similar grocery stores, often on a last-minute errand to purchase a few “quick items,” never expecting to encounter the deafening ring of gunshots. And so, as we begin to hear more of the testimonies of those whose lives were either touched or taken by this inexcusable and senseless act of violence, “we weep.”

How do we fully begin to comprehend the agony of this world in which tragedies, injustices, diseases, and illnesses have seemed to proliferate in such an unprecedented time?


It might not be a conclusive answer, but it is a somber reminder: our fully-divine-and-fully-human Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “wept.”


At Easter, I often reflect upon the moment in which Jesus surveyed Jerusalem from that spectacular, panoramic viewpoint atop the Mount of Olives. At about 2,700-feet in elevation, Jesus would have stood opposite of the restored and radiant temple (the highest point in the city). Of course, as we have learned throughout our lives, these mountaintop experiences are often temporary as we have to then descend back into the valley to fulfill our journeys.


On Sunday, Christian congregations throughout the world will celebrate Palm Sunday and remember the triumphant arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem as he descended from that reflective “hilltop moment” and into the city. We know that those present cheers of celebration would soon turn into chants for his crucifixion. At the moment, however, the boisterous crowd, many of whom had witnessed Lazarus being raised from the tomb, were busy cutting palm branches and spreading their cloaks upon the ground to pave the road for their eagerly awaited deliverer.

They cried out, “Hosanna!” (Save us, Please!) and praised the Son of David as he made his procession further into the holy city of Zion (Ps. 118:25-26). Only Jesus himself could have fully forseen the dark shadow of the cross that would intersect with that path … the cross that would become the pivotal point of the world.


As we celebrate the upcoming Holy Week, might we also remember that life is fraught with pain, and anguish, and that there are moments in which all we can do is to observe and to reflect upon the true meaning of our faith. Christianity has never been an unretractable guarantee against hardships or persecution, and it has never been an impenetrable shield against violence.


Our Christian faith, however, has been a response to the gracious invitation of love shown to us by God through Jesus Christ. And, our faith has been a countercultural response to the broken, fallen, and worldly things of life that have often caused so much pain and suffering. In this regard, let us never keep silent in our words, actions, or in our demonstrations of compassion, lest the stones themselves “cry out.” Let us never be hesitant to weep when necessary.


We can look at the vista before us and see a greater purpose, but for now, “we weep.”


Perhaps it can even be said that the greatest exclamation mark of our Christian faith (that someday awaits us) is that radiant contrail of the heavenly Jerusalem descending upon the New Earth (Rev. 21:1-4). But until that glorious moment, there will be occasional tears that roll down our cheeks and fall upon our shoulders like the softness of rain as a prelude to a brighter day.

Prayer:


Dear Lord, we humble ourselves before you, and beseech you for guidance and wisdom in these troubling, and heart-wrenching times. Might we daily place our trust in your provision for the road ahead, and to recognize that Easter is filled both with breathtaking moments of joy, and also with breathless moments of anguish. In your name, we pray. Amen.



Brian Keithline


Pastor, First Baptist Church of Torrington, Wyo.

ABCRM Communications


American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains

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