“Jesus Wept”. It is the shortest verse in the Bible, yet one of the most powerful. He had just encountered the grief-stricken Mary mourning the death of her brother, Lazarus. We find the account in John 11. Even though we know that all of this transpired for God’s glory and the story had a happy ending, we still see Jesus crying along with those in pain. Amazingly, He did so even though He already knew that all would end well. 

Jesus understood emotional trauma. Isaiah foreshadows Jesus when he says, “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53: 1-3). We also see Him weeping over Jerusalem just before He was to die there (Luke 19:41). 

We understand that He had to experience these things to be a sympathetic High Priest for His people. I believe this is what the writer of Hebrews is suggesting: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…” (Hebrews 4:15). And I think that His sympathy goes beyond just our weakness in temptation that the last half of the verse refers to. 

Why? Because Isaiah 53 continues: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53: 4-5). We see the Suffering Servant as one who ministers to our pain and suffering through His own. 

Although I believe that both of these passages (Hebrews 4 and Isaiah 53) primarily refer to His redemptive work of removing His children from the deserved eternal punishment for our sin, I also believe they portray His compassion for our hurts and sadness. He can sympathize because He experienced real pain and sorrow for us. 

Also, we see evidences of His compassion elsewhere. Four times in Matthew’s gospel alone we see that He has compassion on people. There we so many that He looked at with a tender heart as He was moved by their circumstances. Of course, God, His Father, in the same sense, sovereignly demonstrates divine love towards His own people: “And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Exodus 33:19). 

So what does this mean to us as His children, those whom He has chosen to have compassion on? I believe that it means, beyond the forgiveness of sins, He cries with us, desires to give us comfort, and He conquers for us. I believe this message is a significant part of Paul’s words to the church at Corinth: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” (1 Corinthians 1:3-5). 

No doubt the tears will come. But for His children, the God of compassion and the High Priest of comfort is there for us. Yes, He promised that in this world we will have pain but He also promised us eventual victory in Him – “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In other words, despite our trials, we have peace, hope, and victory in Him. 

How is that? He now intercedes on our behalf. And He demonstrated His worthiness to do so by weeping, understanding sorrow, being familiar with grief, and suffering in our place. Surely He carries our sorrows now and forevermore. So, I believe I most fully experience His gracious compassion when I’m at the foot of the cross gazing upon the irrepressibly beautiful One who cries with me, comforts me, and conquers for me. “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Psalm 42:5, NKJV).

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