Real men don’t cry.
— Social Convention, Origin Unknown
Those who don’t know me that well (and lets face it that’s probably most of you especially since blogging is a rather anonymous endeavor), don’t know that I tend to get a bit weepy, especially when I talk about the Lord. Which means that when I do talks I nearly always cry. It’s not something I can control for very long, so the longer the talk the greater the chance that I will, at the very least, tear up and my voice will break.
So I was very nervous when I was asked to deliver the Sermon at my church this past Father’s Day. It would be the longest talk I’d given at that point, and it was going to be difficult to get through. When I told my Dad I was giving the sermon and mentioned that I tend to cry a lot when I speak about God, he admitted that he too has the same problem. Apparently my family is full of empathetic people; we feel deeply. We identify with emotions. My daughter, my Dad and I all share this trait. My dad had just inadvertently pointed me toward a spiritual truth by bringing up empathy.
And He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”
— John 11:34-37
The most empathetic person to ever walk this planet was our Lord, and in the shortest verse in the King James version of the Bible, we are told that “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Let’s look at it in context. Jesus arrives in Bethany because His friend Lazarus had died and was in the tomb. Jesus was about to ask that they roll the stone away from the entrance, intending to raise Lazarus from the dead. Do you get that? He knew what He was about to do, and He still wept! Lazarus was going to live again; there was no reason for Jesus to weep, but He did.
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
— Luke 19:41-44
In the above passage we are told by Luke, “As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it.” Again, lets put it in context. Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem, riding on a little donkey. The crowds are cheering and yelling “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” If the people were silent then the stones would cry out. It’s the Triumphal Entry; the Palm Sunday story. He is, in that moment, a rock star, sports hero and movie star all rolled into one. Now, granted he knows what is going to happen to him over the course of the week, but he doesn’t cry for himself. He weeps for the city and its people — for an event that is still, at the time, four decades away. He felt that deeply for people, most of whom hadn’t even been born yet.
As far as I know, these are the only two times where it is recorded that He wept, but because he was so empathic I like to think that he wept a lot more. That the sermon on the mount choked him up a few times and that he barely got John 15:13 out between sobs. That’s my favorite verse, by the way, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Which brings me to…
And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”
— Luke 23:27-31
In this passage, the Lord is on his way to his death. He has been beaten and whipped near to death already. A crown of thorns has been forced down onto his head. His cross is now being carried by Simon the Cyrenian because his body is too weak to carry it. Not only has he not shed a tear through all that, but he turns and tells the women in the crowd not to weep for him. Instead, in true empathy, he tells them to weep for themselves and their children. He tells them to weep because of events in the far future or the “dry” wood.
So, Jesus was so manly that he could endure torture and painful death. But he also could weep for others. How many of us could do the same? In my opinion, Jesus was the very definition of a “real man.” Tough enough to endure the unendurable and empathic enough to feel the emotional pain of others. He’s the man that I want to be like so I will proudly weep. I don’t care what society thinks. Do you?