“Jesus gave way to tears.”—JOHN 11:35.
SONG 17 “I Want To”
1-3. What challenges may cause Jehovah’s people to shed tears?
WHEN was the last time you wept? Occasionally, we shed tears of joy. But all too often, we cry because of the anguish in our heart. For example, we may cry when we lose a loved one in death. Lorilei, a sister in the United States, wrote: “There have been moments when the pain of losing my daughter was so intense that nothing seemed to bring me comfort. In those moments, I wondered how my broken and crushed heart could keep beating.”b
2 We may shed tears for other reasons. Hiromi, a pioneer in Japan, confided: “Now and then I get discouraged by the apathy of the people I meet in the ministry. Sometimes with tears in my eyes, I ask Jehovah to help me find someone who is searching for the truth.”
3 Can you relate to the feelings expressed above? Many of us can. (1 Pet. 5:9) We want to “serve Jehovah with rejoicing,” but we may be serving him with tears because of grief, discouragement, or a distressing situation that tests our loyalty to God. (Ps. 6:6; 100:2) How can we cope when we are overwhelmed by such feelings?
4. What will we consider in this article?
4 We can learn from the example of Jesus. At times, he too experienced strong emotions that moved him to ‘give way to tears.’ (John 11:35; Luke 19:41; 22:44; Heb. 5:7) Let us review those events. As we do, we will see what lessons we can learn. We will also review practical ways we can deal with challenges that bring us to tears.
TEARS FOR HIS FRIENDS
5. What do we learn about Jesus from the account recorded at John 11:32-36?
5 In the winter of 32 C.E., Jesus’ good friend Lazarus got sick and died. (John 11:3, 14) The man had two sisters, Mary and Martha, and Jesus loved this family very much. The women were devastated by the loss of their beloved brother. After Lazarus died, Jesus traveled to the village of Bethany, where Mary and Martha lived. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she rushed out to meet him. Imagine the surge of emotions as she said: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21) Shortly afterward when Jesus saw Mary and others weeping, he “gave way to tears.”—Read John 11:32-36.
6. Why did Jesus weep on that occasion?
6 Why did Jesus weep on that occasion? Insight on the Scriptures answers: “The death of his friend Lazarus and the resulting grief to Lazarus’ sisters caused Jesus to ‘groan and give way to tears.’”c Jesus may have been thinking about the pain his dear friend Lazarus experienced during his illness and imagining how the man felt as he realized that his life was slipping away. Jesus was surely also moved to tears on seeing how Mary and Martha were affected by the death of their brother. If you have lost a close friend or a family member in death, no doubt you have experienced similar emotions. Consider three lessons you can learn from this event.
7. What do we learn about Jehovah from the tears Jesus shed for his friends?
7 Jehovah understands how you feel. Jesus is “the exact representation” of his Father. (Heb. 1:3) When Jesus wept, he reflected his Father’s emotions. (John 14:9) If you are enduring the loss of a loved one, you can be sure that Jehovah not only notices your grief but also feels deeply for you. He wants to heal your broken heart.—Ps. 34:18; 147:3.
8. Why can we be confident that Jesus will resurrect our loved ones?
8 Jesus wants to resurrect your loved ones. Shortly before he wept, Jesus assured Martha: “Your brother will rise.” Martha believed Jesus. (John 11:23-27) As a faithful worshipper of Jehovah, Martha no doubt was aware of the resurrections that had been performed centuries earlier by the prophets Elijah and Elisha. (1 Ki. 17:17-24; 2 Ki. 4:32-37) And she had likely also heard of the resurrections that Jesus had performed. (Luke 7:11-15; 8:41, 42, 49-56) You too can be convinced that you will see your dead loved ones again. Jesus’ tears as he gave comfort to his grief-stricken friends are proof that the resurrection is close to his heart!
9. Like Jesus, how can you support those who grieve? Give an example.
9 You can support those who grieve. Jesus not only wept with Martha and Mary but also listened and spoke reassuringly to them. We can do the same for those who grieve. Dan, an elder who lives in Australia, says: “After losing my wife, I needed support. Several couples made themselves available day and night just to listen to me. They let me grieve, and they were not embarrassed by my tears. They also offered practical help, such as washing my car, shopping for groceries, and cooking meals when I felt unable to care for these tasks myself. And they prayed with me often. They proved to be true friends and brothers who are ‘born for times of distress.’”—Prov. 17:17.
TEARS FOR HIS NEIGHBORS
10. Describe the event recorded at Luke 19:36-40.
10 Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on Nisan 9, 33 C.E. As he approached the city, a crowd gathered and people spread their garments on the road before him to acknowledge him as their King. That was certainly a happy occasion. (Read Luke 19:36-40.) So his disciples might not have expected what happened next. “When [Jesus] got nearby, he viewed the city and wept over it.” With tears in his eyes, Jesus foretold the grim fate that awaited the inhabitants of Jerusalem.—Luke 19:41-44.
11. Why did Jesus weep for the inhabitants of Jerusalem?
11 Jesus felt pain of heart because he knew that despite the warm reception he was receiving, his countrymen in general had already shown that they would refuse to respond favorably to the Kingdom message. As a result, Jerusalem would be destroyed and any Jews who survived the destruction of the city would be led into captivity. (Luke 21:20-24) Sadly, just as Jesus anticipated, most of the people rejected him. How do people in general respond to the Kingdom message where you live? If few respond positively to your efforts to teach them the truth, what can you learn from Jesus’ tears? Consider three more lessons.
12. What can we learn about Jehovah from the tears Jesus shed for his fellow man?
12 Jehovah cares about people. Jesus’ tears remind us of how much Jehovah cares about people. “He does not desire anyone to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) Today we show that we love our neighbors by persevering in our self-sacrificing efforts to touch their heart with the good news.—Matt. 22:39.d
13-14. How did Jesus show compassion for people, and how can we cultivate that quality?
13 Jesus worked hard in the ministry. He showed his love for people by continuing to teach them at every opportunity. (Luke 19:47, 48) What moved him to do so? Jesus felt compassion for them. At times, so many wanted to hear Jesus’ words that he and his disciples “were not able even to eat a meal.” (Mark 3:20) He also made himself available at night—a time that was more convenient for one of his listeners. (John 3:1, 2) The majority of those who initially listened to Jesus did not become his disciples. But all who heard him received a thorough witness. Today we want to give everyone the opportunity to hear the good news. (Acts 10:42) To accomplish this, we may need to adjust our approach to the ministry.
14 Be willing to make necessary adjustments. If we do not vary the times when we share in the ministry, we may not be reaching those who would respond favorably to the good news. A pioneer named Matilda says: “My husband and I try to call on people at different times. In the early morning, we do business territory. At midday when many are out and about, we use literature carts. Later in the day, we find it effective to reach people at their homes.” Rather than stick to a schedule that is convenient for us, we should be willing to adjust our schedule to preach when we are more likely to meet people. If we do, we can be sure that Jehovah will be pleased.
TEARS FOR HIS FATHER’S VINDICATION
15. What occurred on the final night of Jesus’ life, as recorded at Luke 22:39-44?
15 Late in the evening on Nisan 14, 33 C.E., Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane. There he poured out his heart to Jehovah. (Read Luke 22:39-44.) It was during those difficult hours that Jesus “offered up supplications . . . with strong outcries and tears.” (Heb. 5:7) What did Jesus pray for during that final night before his death? He prayed for strength to remain loyal to Jehovah and to do His will. Jehovah heard the anguish in his Son’s prayer and sent an angel to strengthen him.
16. Why was Jesus distressed while he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane?
16 Jesus no doubt wept while praying in the garden of Gethsemane because he was distressed over the very thought of being viewed as a blasphemer. He was also aware of the tremendous responsibility he bore—that of vindicating his Father’s name. If you are facing a distressing situation that tests your loyalty to Jehovah, what can you learn from Jesus’ tears? Consider three additional lessons.
17. What can we learn about Jehovah from his answer to Jesus’ earnest prayers?
17 Jehovah listens to your supplications. Jehovah listened to Jesus’ earnest requests. Why? Because Jesus’ main concern was to stay loyal to his Father and to vindicate His name. If our main concern is to stay loyal to Jehovah and to vindicate his name, he will answer our prayers for help.—Ps. 145:18, 19.
18. In what ways is Jesus like a sympathetic friend?
18 Jesus sympathizes with your feelings. When we are distraught, how happy we are to be comforted by a sympathetic friend, especially one who has faced trials similar to ours. Jesus is that friend. He knows what it is like to feel weak and in need of help. He understands our makeup, and he will see to it that we receive the support we need “at the right time.” (Heb. 4:15, 16) Just as Jesus accepted help from an angel in the garden of Gethsemane, we should be willing to accept the help Jehovah provides, whether it is in the form of a publication, a video, a talk, or an encouraging visit from an elder or a mature friend.
19. How can you gain strength when you are facing a distressing test of loyalty to God? Give an example.
19 Jehovah will give you “the peace of God.” How will Jehovah strengthen us? When we pray, we will receive “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil. 4:6, 7) The peace that Jehovah gives calms our heart and stabilizes our thoughts. Consider how this proved true for a sister named Luz. She says: “I struggle with feelings of loneliness. At times, those feelings cause me to think that Jehovah does not love me. But when that happens, I immediately tell Jehovah how I feel. Prayer allows me to gain control of my feelings.” As her experience shows, we can find peace through prayer.
20. What lessons have we learned from the tears Jesus shed?
20 What comforting and practical lessons we can learn from Jesus’ tears! We are reminded to support our grieving friends and to trust that Jehovah and Jesus will support us when we lose a loved one in death. We are motivated to preach and teach with compassion because Jehovah God and Jesus Christ show this tender quality. And we find comfort in knowing that Jehovah and his dear Son understand how we feel, sympathize with our weaknesses, and want to help us endure. May we continue to apply what we have learned until the day when Jehovah fulfills his heartwarming promise to “wipe out every tear from [our] eyes”!—Rev. 21:4.
SONG 120 Imitate Christ’s Mildness
a At times, Jesus experienced strong emotions that moved him to tears. In this article, we will discuss three occasions on which Jesus shed tears and the lessons we can learn.
b Some names have been changed.
e PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Jesus was moved to comfort Mary and Martha. We can do the same for those who lose loved ones in death.
f PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Jesus willingly taught Nicodemus at night. We should study the Bible with people when it is convenient for them.
g PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Jesus prayed for strength to remain loyal to Jehovah. We must do the same when under trial.