An Empathetic God

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

The shortest verse in the bible is long on impact to our lives.  The God who formed and sustains the universe by the supreme power of His voice wept real tears of compassion at the grave of His friend.  What does this tiny glimpse into the empathetic emotion of Jesus tell us about our Creator?

He Knows

Jesus did not come to earth to live as a pretend human. He experienced full-throated, gut-wrenching humanity to its fullest extent.  Whatever challenges you may be facing, Jesus has walked the same road, fought the same demon, carried the same burden. 

Jesus knows by experience our pains and anguishes, “for we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are.” (Hebrews 4:15)

He Cares

What was it that caused Jesus to weep?  John records that when He “saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” (John 11:33)  The mythological gods of the Greeks and Romans disdained humans for their weakness and contributed to or were callous toward the misery of mankind. Jesus, however, is a God who is troubled by our suffering, our pain reaches into His heart. 

It was because He cared for us that He came into the world to live a life full of sorrows. Edward Shilleto, in his poem Jesus of the Scars, wrote "The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak; They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne; But to our wounds only God's wounds can speak, And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone."

He Is Able To Do Something About It

The best we can do at the graveside is to weep. But Jesus goes a giant leap further: He has the power to end suffering. “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  (Hebrews 2:18)  The same God who will cause every knee to bow will also cause every tear to be wiped away.

We may not have the answer to why God allows people to suffer, but in the compassion and affliction of Jesus Christ we know one thing is for sure: it’s not because God does not love us.  God did not let Himself off the hook of human suffering – he shared in it, drenched Himself in His own sweat and tears and blood. 

"Frequently it is when we are crushed and devastated that the cross speaks most powerfully to us. The wounds of Christ then become Christ's credentials. The world mocks, but we are assured of God's love by Christ's wounds."  (D. A. Carson in How Long, O Lord? 

Oh, what a God have we!