As Holy Week dawns, and Easter is fast approaching, the Common Lectionary has us looking at a couple of gospel stories in which Jesus wept.
The first is in John 11 for Lent 5. As Jesus approached the tomb of his friend Lazarus in Bethany, Mary, one of Lazarus’ sisters was weeping, and the Jews who were with her were also weeping – everyone was weeping. Jesus was deeply moved, and he, too, began to weep.
I heard this story preached in one of our churches, and the preacher referred to Andries J. Coetzee, who said (I’m paraphrasing), “Jesus raised Lazarus, and then turned to the community and directed them to unbind him and set him free.”
A few minutes later, a man who was serving as liturgist and calling for the offering, gave his testimony of walking into that church for the first time twelve years before with his husband and their infant son, and being instantly welcomed with the words, “We love to welcome new families to our church!”
The truth is that some churches are not so welcoming of non-traditional families, and the man’s testimony just washed over me. I began to weep – right there in the church pew! Jesus turned to the community of faith and said, “Unbind him and set him free.”
Next, we turn our attention to Palm Sunday and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. In Luke’s gospel, following Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, Jesus looked out over the city of Jerusalem and wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!” (Luke 19:41-42)
I wept again this week when we heard of yet another school shooting, this time at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee. And I cannot help but think of Jesus weeping over our nation and crying out, “If you would only recognize the things that make for peace!” How do our elected leaders not see that ready access to weapons of war does not make for peace?
Next week, church, we will remember again the Passion of our Lord. Jesus was betrayed, arrested, harshly judged and cruelly beaten, and then put to death, wrapped in burial cloths and placed in the tomb. Even as we weep over his Passion, we wait with hope for his Resurrection, which will surely come.
Come, Lord; unbind us, set us free and give us peace. In the name of our risen Savior, who weeps for us. Amen.
Blessings and Peace,