The Tears of Jesus (Part 3)

And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. (Luke 18:31–34 ESV).

We go a bit further back in the chronology of this event with our reading today. The betrayal, the mockery, the shame, the spit, the flogging, the murder—and so much more—was planned. In other words, the resistance, the rejection, the unbelief and hostility were not a surprise to Jesus. They were, in fact, all just a part of the plan (v. 42). Remember what Jesus said about his parables in Luke 8:10: “To you [disciples] it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” God was handing them over to hardness. It was judgment. The mercy of God is a sovereign mercy. “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). But here is the point we see: This sovereign Christ weeps over the hard-hearted, perishing people of Jerusalem as they fulfilled his plan.

It is unbiblical and wrong to make the tears of mercy a contradiction to the serenity of sovereignty. Jesus was serene in sorrow, and sorrowful in sovereignty. Jesus’ tears are the tears of sovereign mercy. And therefore his sovereign power is the more admirable and the more beautiful. It’s the harmony of things that seem in tension that makes him glorious—“merciful and mighty,” as we sing. We admire power more when it is merciful power. And we admire mercy more when it is mighty mercy. Oh that we would see and savor the beauty of Christ and his tears of sovereign joy and the self-sacrificing love and obedience that took him every step of the way during this incredible week of atonement.

And, that we would be changed by what we see and become more tenderly-moved, self-denying, need-meeting people. This is the message for us today. As we each walk those parts of our journey that are unbearably painful and incredibly impossible to fathom, we must remember the tears of Jesus. Even when he knew how little we would understand he still carries us through every experience with sovereign mercy. And when we reach the other side of these experiences, we must also become people of mercy and compassion. Even when it is “their fault” be a person of kindness and grace; extend mercy, not wrath. Accept this grace today!