“Real men don’t cry,” we are told. However, this saying is not in agreement with the Bible. In the Bible, godly men and women wept. Let’s consider some things which caused them to weep.
1. Abraham wept over Sarah’s death.
“So Sarah died… and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and weep for her” (Genesis 23:2). They had been married for at least 62 years (Genesis 23:2 cf. 12:4-5 cf. 17:17). It must have been a great loss.
Abraham is not alone. Others also have wept over the loss of a loved one. Jacob mourned many days when he thought that his son, Joseph, was dead (Genesis 37:31-35). The children of Israel wept for Moses thirty days (Deuteronomy 34:8). Devout men made great lamentation over Stephen (Acts 8:2). The Ephesian elders wept over the prospect of seeing Paul no more (Acts 20:37-38).
It is natural to sorrow for the loss. However, when the righteous die, we need not “sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Death is gain for those right with God (Philippians 1:21).
2. Jeremiah wept over the condition of his nation.
He is known as the weeping prophet. He obviously cared deeply for those he warned. He said of their coming destruction, “Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people” (Jeremiah 9:1). He warned, “Hear and give ear: Do not be proud, for the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God before He causes darkness… But if you will not hear it, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes shall weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD’s flock has been taken captive” (Jeremiah 13:15-17). He would weep so much that he ran out of tears. “My eyes fail with tears, , my heart is troubled; my bile is poured out on the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because the children and the infants faint in the streets of the city” (Lamentations 2:11).
It is important to realize that Jeremiah did not simply weep; he pleaded for people to amend their ways (Jeremiah 7:1-3). Alas, they would not listen (Jeremiah 6:16-17).
Do we care about our nation and its people? If so, what are we doing to turn people to God? Do we weep over sin? “Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law” (Psalm 119:136).
3. A woman wept for joy.
She stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears and wipe them with the hairs of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil” (Luke 7:38). Jesus explained her actions saying “her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much” (Luke 7:47). The context is that she loved much, because her sins had been forgiven (Luke 7:40-43). J.W. McGarvey comments, “Her love was the result, and not the cause of her forgiveness” (McGarvey, The Four Fold Gospel, p. 295).
Those who have received the forgiveness of God should be appreciative. Those who comprehend how great this forgiveness is should be thankful, and want to serve Him. Tears of joy are in order. Do we appreciate this mercy, as we should?
4. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus.
“Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept” (John 11:33-35).
Why did Jesus weep? (a) Was it over His loss of His friend? I do not believe this to be the answer. Jesus was there to raise Lazarus (John 11:1-4; 11:14-15; 11:38-44. Notice “for the glory of God” in verse 4 and 40. Notice “that you may believe” in verse 15). (b) Was it over the bringing of Lazarus back from the dead? Some have so thought. James Burton Coffman comments, “our Lord was about to call back to our world of temptation and sin a valiant soldier who had already won the crown of life” (studylight.org). Robert Taylor Jr. comments, “Perhaps Jesus wept because Lazarus was about to be brought back from rest, pleasure and comfort in Hadean Paradise to a world of woe and this sphere of sorrow and sighing again” (Taylor, Studies in the Gospel of John, p. 167). The Chief Priests would plot to kill him after his resurrection (John 12:9-11). However true things may be, nothing in context suggests that it was for these reasons Jesus wept. (c) The context seems to suggest that Jesus was touched by the pain and sorrow of others, who were weeping over Lazarus. Jesus was pained by their pain.
Do we care for others, as He did? We are instructed, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
5. Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it” (Luke 19:41). Moreover, as He went to the cross, He said – “Daughters of Jerusalem do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28). It saddened Jesus that this city had rejected their only hope to avoid destruction (Matthew 23:37-38; 24:1-2; 24:15-16).
Does it sadden us when people reject the message of salvation? Does it sadden us when the enemies of Christ continue their stubborn resistance to their own destruction?
6. Jesus wept in His suffering.
He “offered up prayers and supplication, with vehement cries and tear to Him who was able to save Him from death” (Hebrews 5:7). The reference is to the Garden of Gethsemane. Robert Milligan comments, “Be it remembered that Christ was a man; and that, as a man, he possessed all the sinless feelings and propensities of our nature. As a man, he had a heart to fear and tremble, like other men, in view of great undertakings and responsibilities” (Milligan, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 196).
Nevertheless, He was determined to do the Father’s will. He prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
Life can be difficult. Do we have the attitude of Jesus?
7. Paul wept in his trials.
His service to the Lord brought him “many tears and trials” (Acts 20:19). Paul was a real man, with real feelings. He experienced fear and trembling (1 Corinthians 2:3).
Still he pressed on. He said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Is such our attitude?
8. Paul wept in his concern for brethren.
He reminded the Ephesians elders of his care for them. He said, “I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31). He did not warn them without feelings. He cared.
A preacher friend once told me that there is a big difference between a preacher who tells someone that he is going to hell, and seems to enjoy it – and one who tells him that he is going to hell, if he does not change, and it seems to break his heart. Do we truly care?
9. Paul wept when he had to boldly correct a situation.
The brethren at Corinth should have mourned over the sin which existed in the church (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). They did not, and they were not correcting the situation. In fact, they were “puffed up.” Perhaps, they were prideful of their tolerance and acceptance (e.g. “All are welcomed and accepted here, even in their sins!”)
Paul rebuked them in a letter. He said, “Out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears” (2 Corinthians 2:4). However, he knew that it must be done. He said, “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).
He cared enough to correct. Do we?
10. Paul wept when he had to count some brethren as enemies of the cross.
He warned, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, whose glory is their shame – who set their mind on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19). It gave him no pleasure to warn these brethren about some bad influences among them. However, they needed this warning.
He cared enough to warn. Do we?