March 23, 2022: 4th Wednesday in Lent

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR LOVING SAVIOR WHO DRIES ALL OUR TEARS!

TEXT:  Luke 23: 26-31

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          An expert in the human eye could certainly give you a scientific explanation as to why people cry.  But, we don’t need it.  Everyone knows why people shed tears.—Some are the result of sadness, others of great emotional joy.  Tears are the physical manifestation of great emotional upheaval, aren’t they?  And although we try, we really cannot control them.

          Tonight is all about tears, and yet it isn’t.  Because as sad of the suffering and death of Jesus was, the point of tonight’s sermon is:

SEE HIS CROSS!  SHED NO TEARS FOR JESUS!

I

          Christ’s passion is the ultimate in tragedy and also the ultimate in deliverance.  It runs the total gamut of human emotions.  All the Gospel writers paint a graphic picture.  It’s brutal and quite awful.  Jesus is arrested, manhandled, shunted off for the show trial, falsely accused, severely beaten, and sentenced to death—all in the space of about 8 or 9 hours.  When Pilate finally has Him brought out to the crowd and says: “Ecce Homo!” or “Behold the man” in order to elicit some compassion for Him, all it caused was more mindless hatred. 

          The soldiers then lead Jesus out of the city to be crucified with two others, two terrorists against Rome.  The beating, loss of blood, and lack of sleep took its toll on Jesus’ body.  He breaks down as He carries the heavy, green-wood cross.  Simon of Cyrene, a Jewish pilgrim from North Africa who is in the city for his once-in-a-lifetime Passover celebration, got a once-in-a-lifetime shock.  He’s picked out of the crowd to bear Jesus’ cross.  His new clothes quickly get smeared with blood from the cross.  The crowd stops on their way to work and while some spit and yell obscenities, and others just gawk, some in the crowd break down and cry.

          It’s all so tragic.  Jesus has done nothing wrong.  He is totally innocent.  He was kind and loving throughout every day of His life.  His message wasn’t rebellion and revolution.  It was forgiveness, reforming the heart of evil, and embracing Godly love.  Only a few days before this the Jerusalem crowd had welcomed Him with shouts of praise and joy.  Now some of those same souls yell: “Crucify, Crucify!” while others, like the women of our lesson, cry.  Their eyes overflow with tears.

          Can you imagine if this occurred today?  Can you imagine if some news network got a You Tube feed and broadcast this tragedy?  Can you imagine what the world-wide emotional response would be when people heard Him croak out: “Women, do not weep for me.”? 

          But why not weep for Christ?  After all, He was abandoned by His followers, turned on by His countrymen, and apparently helpless in the grip of evil men.  Why not cry for Him?—Because right here Jesus was fulfilling His destiny.  He was doing, actually embracing, the very thing He came into this world for.  He was suffering the full weight of the world’s evil so that none of us would have to feel it forever in eternity!  As the Son of God, He was and is our perfect Substitute.  He was and is our perfect Twin.  He willingly agreed to become human evil personified in order to pay evil’s penalty to God Almighty.  The penalty was death and now Christ trudges along to embrace it.  St. Paul captures it well with these words: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 

II

          On a human level the tears of the women were understandable.  They saw what was occurring and it moved them.  But they did not see the real reasons behind it all.  They did not yet see the real truth of the cross.  They were clueless as to the real meaning of those yet-to-be-written words of St. Paul: “All things work together for good to those who love God.” 

          Jesus reminded these women: “Do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.”  What does all this mean?  First, it’s a reminder that the progeny of those women would also experience tragedy, loss, suffering, and eventually death.  Like all generations, they would fade away and eventually become dust, forgotten like some forlorn dream.  That’s because without God’s forgiveness cleansing each human soul of evil and without faith in that great deliverance, every human’s future is nothing but tragedy.  Second, this was also a prophetic vision of their rejection of God’s Son and the eventual destruction of Jerusalem, them, and their children by Rome some 40 years hence.  Yes, standing outside of God’s grace, failing to see eternal deliverance through Christ’s cross is the ultimate tragedy deserving of tears because it is an eternal tragedy.

          During my ministry I’ve probably conducted around 100 funerals.  One thing that stands out in my mind is the tear-filled eyes of those present.  Basically I’ve seen two types of tears.  First, there are the Christian mourners who lament their earthly loss but at the same time exhibit tears of joy along with their sadness.  They know the power of the cross.  They know that through it Christ saved the soul of their departed and thus through it they will be reunited in glory someday.  However, there is a second type of mourner who also cries—copiously.  They are the people who don’t believe in Christ, who have rejected His cross, and thus they have no hope and no comfort.  I guess their tears eventually dry up, but only salty bitterness remains behind.  Folks, that’s the true tragedy of life. 

          So, in the future, whenever tragedy strikes and unbidden tears begin to flow, See His Cross, See His Love, and recall the great deliverance from tears that Christ won for you!  Amen

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH…..

Pastor Fox

Leave a Reply