Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
John 11: 35
“Musing on the treasured past,
Now gazing on the voiceless crypt.
Lo! they are both arrested, by
Strange sudden tears, for ‘Jesus wept!’”
J. R. Macduff
Thoughts for Consideration:
What does it mean to me to know that Almighty God weeps with me when my heart breaks?
“Let all who are sad take heart again;
We are not alone in our hours of pain;
Our Father stoops from His throne above
To soothe and quiet us with His love.
He leaves us not when the storm is high,
And we have safety, for He is nigh,
Can it be trouble that He doth share?
Oh, rest in peace, for the Lord doth care!”
“Jesus did not come to make God’s love possible, but to make God’s love visible.”
As I’ve shared with you in the past, my dear grandmother was a tremendous believer in memorizing Scripture. She not only believed it brought healing to her physical being, but she also was convinced it increased her mental power. Who am I to doubt what Grandma put into practice in her own life for she lived to be 96 with a mind as sharp as a tack until the day she “fell asleep.”
Because of Grandma’s continued memorization of the Bible all through her life, she was constantly on a mission to incorporate others into her company. And so, instead of giving her grandchildren an “allowance” for helping with routine chores, (which I might add, she didn’t believe one should be paid for doing the normal duties of the day) instead Grandma paid us 25¢ for every verse we memorized in the Bible. I admit that I became quite a little money-maker. Psalm 91 took me some time but in my young eyes, the cash was well worth the effort.
With this background, you can well imagine my unfettered excitement when I came upon John 11: 35 – a text with only two words. I ran to Grandma with my discovery that I had memorized a new passage of Scripture. Although Grandma had many amazing qualities, she never was one given over to hilarity. Grandma’s hard life as a youngster didn’t leave much room for laughter. So you may well have guessed that my two-word verse stunt didn’t impress her one bit. True to her word though, she said she would pay me but I needed to add John 14: 1-3 to my repertoire and she agreed to give me $1.00 total for my effort.
Little did I realize at age 10 how many times the words I had committed to memory would come up in my mind at times when God’s word was the very encouragement I so desperately needed. Still to this day, I find myself repeating passages of Scripture that hold great meaning to me.
I find it rather fascinating that when I began working on the devotional for John 11: 35, a text with only two words, much to my surprise, I kept running into one new thought after another. All of a sudden, I found that I had too much material for one devotional. How interesting that this famous and loved passage has ended up with two devotionals – one for each word. Grandma might even have laughed about the fact that her smart-aleck granddaughter has had to spend so much time uncovering the rare treasures found in a simple passage which reminds us every time we read it that our God, the Ruler of the Universe, weeps right beside us and He is touched by what affects us.
After the unbelievable massacre of nine of God’s precious children who were worshipping at Prayer Meeting on June 16, 2015 at “Mother Emmanuel” Church in Charleston, South Carolina, one of God’s daughters sent me words penned by beloved author Max Lucado who posted his unique take after the tragedy – which reflected Jesus’ response in Bethany so long ago:
“Do you see a Saviour with Terminator tenderness bypassing the tears of Martha and Mary and, in doing so, telling them and all grievers to buck up and trust? I don’t. I don’t because of what Jesus does next. He weeps. He sits on the pew between Mary and Martha, puts an arm around each, and sobs. Among the three, a tsunami of sorrow is stirred, a monsoon of tears is released. Tears that reduce to streaks the watercolor conceptions of a cavalier Christ. Jesus weeps. He weeps with them. He weeps for them. He weeps with you. He weeps for you. He weeps so we will know: Mourning is not disbelieving. Flooding eyes don’t represent a faithless heart…His tears give you permission to shed your own. Grief does not mean you don’t trust; it simply means you can’t stand the thought of another day without the ‘Lazarus’ of your life. If Jesus gave love, He understands the tears.”
But there’s even more that we may learn standing by our weeping Master at the grave of His beloved friend. Jesus wasn’t just crying for Mary and Martha. He was thinking of all His beloved friends, you and me included, who would also be weeping at the harshness of life and the coldness of death. He could see your sorrows and mine. In the poetic words of Pastor J. R. Macduff:
“Jesus wept! These tears are over,
But His heart is still the same;
Kinsman, Friend, and Elder Brother,
Is His everlasting name.
Saviour, who can love like Thee,
Gracious One of Bethany!
When the pangs of trial seize us,
When the waves of sorrow roll,
I will lay my head on Jesus,
Pillow of my troubled soul.
Surely none can feel like Thee,
Weeping One of Bethany!
Jesus wept! And still in glory,
He can mark each mourner’s tear.
Loving to retrace the story of the hearts He so loved there.
Lord! Let me think of Bethany!
Jesus wept! That tear of sorrow is a legacy of love;
Yesterday, today, tomorrow,
He the same doth ever prove.
Thou art all in all to me,
Living One of Bethany.”
In his commentary on John 11, Professor Lincoln E. Galloway makes this observation which should leave every grieving heart filled with immense hope today: “Jesus does not stand outside of the moment as an observer. He participates in the moment and takes within Himself the experience of loss that shapes and clothes that moment…Ultimately, Jesus’ act of love will reveal the glory of the One who sent Him.” For indeed, our God weeps.
“Is it a small thing in your eyes to be loved by God – to be the son, the spouse, the love, the delight of the King of glory? Christian, believe this, and think about it; you will be eternally embraced in the arms of the love which was from everlasting, and will extend to everlasting – of the love which brought the Son of God’s love from heaven to earth, from earth to the cross, from the cross to the grave, from the grave to glory – that love which was weary, hungry, tempted, scorned, scourged, buffeted, spat upon, crucified, pierced – which fasted, prayed, taught, healed, wept, sweated, bled, died. That love will eternally embrace you.”
“Can I see another’s woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief,
And not seek for kind relief?
Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow’s share?
Can a father see his child weep
Nor be with sorrow filled?
Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, No! Never can it be!
Never, never can it be!
And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird’s grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear –
And not sit beside the nest,
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near;
Weeping tear on infant’s tear?
And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
Oh no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!
He doth give His joy to all;
He becomes an Infant small,
He becomes a Man of Woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.
Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by;
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.
Oh, He gives to us His joy,
That our grief He may destroy.
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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