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~ Weeping with Jesus ~

Certain verses from sacred Scripture give me pause and induce contemplation. Of course, the often quoted “major” ones do that, like John 3:16. There are ones we read over and pass onto the rest of Scripture, not stopping to squeeze out both meaning and imagery.

One of those is the shortest verse in Scripture: “Jesus wept.” All of us did and continue to weep at times. But weeping is driven by so many motivations. Some children cry because their parents said “no” to their request for candy. Some cry because they are starving for food. Some children cry when they leave their parents for the first day of school. Some cry because they witnessed their parents being torn apart by a senseless bombing in war-ravaged lands.

Some teenagers cry when their first love pulls away. Some cry because they are never loved by anyone. Some adults cry when they are passed over in a job promotion. Some cry when there is no income to feed their families and heat their homes.

Some cry from the surface of things and their perception of their importance. Others can say with the psalmist, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!”

To witness the weeping of Jesus must be an awesome, pausing experience. Imagine, the Incarnate of the Holy Spirit weeping! Pause to image that. The depths from which He cried are infinite. His weeping moves all who love Him to weep with Him. So angels do cry. How can the heavens not weep when the Son of the Almighty cries out from His depths?

In some of my bouts of depression and weeping, well meaning evangelicals admonished me, saying I should always rejoice in my blessings in the presence of Christ. I have my bouts of ecstasy too. Weeping, however, is a part of authentic Christian life and all human experience.

Christ is still weeping. He cries with the millions of expediently murdered children still in their mothers’ womb. He cries when we don’t recognize Him in our poor, imprisoned, persecuted, neglected and socially dismissed brothers and sisters as unredeemable and unworthy of human and spiritual dignity.

Looking beyond political correctiveness and nationalism, Christ did weep over the atrocities of dictator Sadam and the so many others in history. He is, no doubt, also weeping over the response of nations to it and their motivations, which any thinking person cannot say are “pure.” Christ weeps over the horror of the devastation in Iraq and other arenas of human war and violence. How can He not? Do you really think the heavens are rejoicing over all of this? If you don’t, then Christians cannot either. If you do, then I find myself speechless and in wonder of your theology.

That reminds me of another often passed over scriptural verse: “I have given you the power to treat upon serpents and scorpions” (Luke 10:19). Before I continue with this thread of thought, I do hope no nation has claimed this as their power given by God. This power was given to the Church, the Body and Bride of Christ.

I personally played with scorpions and rattlesnakes in admiration and fascination. I never felt any inclination to destroy them. I know their vital importance in the ecosystem, even that of mosquitoes, though I do admit having swatted some of them to death. Yet, these swattings (when I couldn’t just brush them off) did give me a tinge of sorrow. After all, they are mothers seeking blood to nourish their children. They don’t mean to cause pain.

Christ created serpents and scorpions (“All things were created by Him and through Him.”) He had his reasons. They are magnificent life forms. Obviously then, Christ was using a poetic metaphor. If you don’t think so, recognize that we already have the power to tread on them, not given by Him. (Just make sure you are wearing padded hiking boots.)

So what did Christ give His followers power to do? Contemplate on this.

Here’s another one that gives me pause, from Psalm 115: “[Idols] have mouths but they cannot speak; they have eyes but they cannot see; they have ears but they cannot hear; they have nostrils but they cannot smell. With their hands they cannot feel; with their feet they cannot walk. No sound comes from their throats. Their makers will come to be like them and so will all who trust in them.”

What I am about to say will probably raise many evangelical eyebrows, so forgive any offensiveness, which is not intended at all. There is a very tiny nation, so tiny that if it had an airport, the bordering nations would complain about the jet wings intruding into their domains. That nation is steadfast in its intolerance of abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, pre-emptive military strikes, stem cell research using human embryos, and maintains political neutrality in favor of the precepts of the Gospel. It has no army but does engage in the entire world with acts of mercy and service. US President Bush visited its leader twice, and so has the leadership of many other world powers.

That nation has not been flawless throughout its 1500-year history, but it is the only one in the world that apologized for its sins. It is the only state whose leader visited the man in prison who almost killed him, to offer his forgiveness and encouragement to participate in the promises of the Gospel.

It is the only nation where politicians don’t spill their rhetoric in favor of gaining votes or alliances of power. It has no politicians. It declares the truth of Christ’s Gospel and strives to govern itself by the precepts of God’s dictates. It is the oldest sovereign state on earth. It is the Vatican City. This nation must be doing something right, worth investigating by people of all nationalities.

Please let me give my readers pause and ask you to resist categorizing me. (“Is he Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox…?”) When we are placed in a category, we are dismissed as being thought to be understood. (“Now I know where he is coming from!”)

I relate historical and current facts. I welcome respectful responses on our message board accessible through out our web site. There you can debate this among yourselves. You are invited to discuss what Christ meant by providing the power to tread on serpents and scorpions.

Let me suggest we idolize the serpents and scorpions in our world. Few nations name them for what they are. Most don’t recognize them in their nationalistic blindness. So we become deaf, blind, and unfeeling to the weeping of Christ. Those who bear the name of Christian have only one nation, that of the heavenly homeland to which Christ calls us. Any other allegiance is idolatry. Let us not become like our idols. We are called to become Christlike.

There is not one nation on the earth in which a Christian cannot be found. Christ lamented, “Nation shall raise against nation” but He didn’t commit to one over another. He weeps for all who bear His name in all nations. Let us follow the example of the Vatican State and transcend nationalism in favor of the kingdom of God.

Should any readers be repulsed by that suggestion, then at least recognize the transcendence of the heavenly nation of God’s kingdom over all our nationalistic pride, whether you are French, English, German, Peruvian, Indian, Russian, Cuban, etc. Otherwise, Christ will continue to weep over His brothers and sisters in greater depths we can imagine. Let us not grieve His Holy Spirit by idolatrous allegiance to any nation other than His Kingdom. Christ directed us to “Seek first the kingdom of God…”

The only nation I know that does that is the Vatican State. It stumbles along the way, as we all do. But I am weary of the protestant exclusion of other denominations from which we can learn so much. I am sure Jesus also weeps over the 2000 divisions of this Body. A song so many of them sing beings with “We are one in the Spirit…”  Singing it is nice. Living it will turn Christ’s weeping into laughter of joy.

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
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