In recent weeks I have been paying special attention to certain things that I have been seeing on television, and when I put that together with the way that I see the world going, especially in recent years, I just can't keep from thinking, and perhaps you do too, "what must the Lord think of the way the people of the world are going today?" We have become so enveloped in what I call this age of high technology with new ideas and future plans, materialistic opportunities, and even new religions, but I wonder if we just can't conceive of the fact that our Lord is concerned about the way we look at our own soul and our own spirit. So seeing these things swiftly changing is disturbing to me and I hope it is disturbing to you, especially when we know that we serve a God who does not change, as we found in Mal. 3:6, and as he looks down upon this earth with the way things are going, perhaps he has a broken heart as well. And so, with that thought in mind this morning, I would like to talk to you on what I call, "Could Jesus Still Be Weeping?"
Now I know as I brought that into the present tense it might seem a little strange to some of you to think that Jesus Christ in heaven could be weeping. But if you looked again on the front page of our bulletin, you saw at least in the writings of Paul to the church in Ephesus, chapter 4:30, where he said "grieve not the Holy Spirit of God," I can believe that if the Holy Spirit down through the years would be grieved, then also God and his son Christ Jesus would be grieved as He sees the comings and goings and the ins and outs of so many of us here in this life.
I mentioned the fact that recent happenings have stimulated me to preach this sermon this morning. But before I get into that, let me kind of build this up, if you will. When I was a boy growing up, the religious world was not in any sense as broad and as extended, at least to me, as it seems to be now. We had the usual, accepted, denominational groups that were pretty much in the majority in our county and our community, but as far as having the multiplicity of different religions as we have today throughout the world and here in America is no exception, it seems like we have seen some tremendous changes as the years have gone by. When I went into the military in 1950, we were asked a question and that question was, "Are you Protestant, Catholic, or Jew?" Those three religions seemed to be pretty much the norm as far as the religious community here in America. But since then, as I have already mentioned, there has emerged a multiplicity of religions and some without any connection to God or to Jesus Christ at all. And then there is what I am calling "the religion of no religion," which of course becomes an infidelic religion. That seems to be rising to the fore more and more as the years come and go. There even seems to be (I don't know if you have heard this expression - I am kind of coining the expression) a "hatch up your own religion or make it up as you go." In other words, anything goes as far as that is concerned. And so there has been some very swiftly developing changes in the religious community in the last few years. But on the other hand, that has pretty much been the norm every since the church has been here. For example, I remember the apostle Paul in the Galatian letter, chapter 1, verse 6 (by the way the church would not have been very old at that time and certainly the churches in Galatia would not have been very old because Paul himself had established those congregations) saying "I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. But there be some that trouble you that would prevert or alter the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ."
So, I guess what I am saying, as different periods of time come and go, that we do see major changes developing and taking place. Now let me go back to the statement I made in the opening that certain recent happenings have just struck me in a way that I felt like I needed to share that with you this morning. I am sure that most of us can go back three or four weeks ago when the news broke of the NBC reporter David Bloom's death over in Iraq. Now, as you know, David did not die of any wounds, he died of natural causes - a blood clot we are told. Now I always thought a lot of David Bloom, and of course I still do as a reporter, but one of his fellow reporters in commenting upon the death of David said, "I was there the second that he died, and for some reason I looked up in the sky and saw a desert hawk circling high in the sky. I knew that this hawk was carrying his spirit on to heaven."
Is this the concept that lots of folks have today toward the spirit and soul of man? Are we so unlearned about our souls that we want to depend on some bird or some animal to translate or to transport us to the very portals of heaven? As I read my Bible in John 14:6, I find Jesus saying, "I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh to the Father except by me." So I marvel today and it bothers me that we are seeing such attitudes that are being made by supposedly very intelligent, very well-educated and responsible people, but who on the other hand know very little about what the Bible has to say concerning the soul and the spirit of man.
Now if I might illustrate this a little further. At the funeral services of David Bloom, different ones, of course, spoke at that. One was Tom Brokaw. I have always admired Tom Brokaw - I guess because he spoke at my daughter's graduation from college years ago. I just was moved when I heard Tom make this statement about David. He said, " I would love to have been standing at the side of God when David appeared before him in heaven. I would love to have seen the face of God and the look on his face when David as a great promoter and organizer, looked around and said, 'We need to make some changes here.'" Immediately my mind went to Galatians 6:7 which says, "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Maybe I took it wrong, but it just sort of fell in the category of mocking God.
And then the straw that broke the camel's back in these recent happenings, occurred just last week as my wife showed me Sarah Overstreet's article in the Springfield News Leader and she had a great big picture of a sign down on South Campbell of a large hog or a large pig and underneath that sign it said, "He died for our sings-go vegetarian." Now understand I have no faults to find with those who prefer to go vegetarian, but I do have faults with any cause that would use such base puns which cast a reflection upon Jesus Christ who died on Calvary's cross for our sins. It is too serious a matter, my friends, to be making little base puns about Jesus Christ and using that caption underneath the picture of a hawg.
But on the other hand, this same type of advertising is appearing almost weekly on television as they are using such things as Bible verses out of context, or Biblical images, or some sort of a heavenly scene. I remember one with angels in the clouds and I think they are talking about some automobile, or what have you. But you see, all of those things in some ridiculous setting, is being used to promote a given product, and that wasn't the reason that our Lord came, by any means. So with that I wonder, I just wonder, if Jesus could still be weeping as he sees us participating in things of that nature.
To find the answer to that, let's just go back in the Bible and let's just take some of the times that Jesus wept. Automatically, I am sure your mind goes to John 11:35 when Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus, and upon seeing the two sisters, Mary and Martha, weeping, of course the Bible simply says that "Jesus wept." Now if you will read that entire text (and we don't have time this morning, but there in John 11), you will know that Jesus knew before he ever arrived at the tomb of Lazarus what he was going to do. He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead in order to show the power and the glory of God. But when he got to the tomb itself and there he saw the sisters and others weeping, the compassion of Jesus was such that he had to weep also. Now let me ask you this, are we to believe that today he holds no emotions of sympathy and even empathy when he looks down on each of us and he sees our pains and our sorrows? Now if we believe that, and I speak this kindly, then what we have done is lock Jesus into the first century. If we cannot imagine or believe that he even sees or hears us today, in that process we become no better than those that I have just previously mentioned. We need to remember that Paul in writing to the church in Corinth (II Cor. 1:3) referred to God as the God of all comfort. And so if God is the God of all comfort, as of course would be his Son and the Holy Spirit, and if we find this to be very difficult to accept the fact that they are aware of our needs and our different problems today, then why do we even pray for Him to be with us? And I am saying that and using this section of the sermon to verify again that yes, I believe that Jesus even weeps today under certain conditions.
But then again, as we move to Luke 19:41, this is the time that Jesus came into the outskirts of the city of Jerusalem, and when "he beheld the city, he wept over it." And as you move on down in that text from Luke 19:43, you will find the reasons that he wept. He said, "For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another." Without a doubt, he was talking about and prophesying, as it were, to the destruction of Jerusalem coming about in A.D. 70.
Now based upon his reaction that we have already seen at the tomb of Lazarus, I can believe that his concern for Jerusalem was not so much over the physical buildings (and that even included the temple), but rather the misery and pain that was to befall the inhabitants of that city made Jesus weep. Now let's put an application to that., If he wept over a city whose inhabitants were to suffer at the hands of evil men, can't we believe that it must still break his heart today when this same type of scene is recurring world wide? And that includes, of course, such things as the act of terrorism and mass murder that we have been subjected to here the last few weeks and months.
But there still might be other reasons why he wept over that city. You will recall as you have read your Bible, even going back in the Old Testament, that Jerusalem was, shall we say, the very center for years of religious activities. It had become and was so called the "holy city." But it seems that during the time of Christ, so many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and, no doubt, throughout Judea, had forgotten some of the basic principals of God and were now following meaningless traditions of men. You will read about that in Matt. 15 and elsewhere. But also this holy city, supposedly, had so mistreated prophets of God in the past (and one just in recent years from Christ was that of John the Baptist), that Jesus in Matthew 23:37-38 cried out the famous passage that you have heard so many times, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stones them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"
Now here is the application I want to make of this and of course there are many more that we could make. Retaining the thought and the theme that we have carried from the very beginning, in years past the United States of America has also been called "the center of religious activities" in that we have probably sent out down through the years, more missionaries than any other country in the world. But more recently, however, as I keep saying, things have changed. We are seeing these puns being made, puns about pigs. We are seeing advertisements that hedge on blasphemy and mockery. We are seeing again "making up your own religion as you go," and that includes such things as coming back in a future life as a dog, a cat, a pig, or a barrel of crude, or even perhaps a load of lumber.
Now let me ask you this. We have talked about people who are well educated, responsible people that endorse just such a thing and evidence of that is in such entertainers as Sherry McClain and others. But which is the harder to believe - that we might come back in some future life as I have just described or that we can be, according to our obedience to the gospel of Christ, carried, as it were, on the wings of the spirit of God into heaven, because of the grace and the mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Which is the most logical? Which is the most logical? So then if Jesus wept over a city while here on earth, is he no less moved to tears when he sees what is happening in our country, which at one time was called a Christian nation?
Let's go to another scene when Jesus became very sorrowful. We are talking about in the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:37. I will have to admit to you that in that particular text, we do not see it proper saying that Jesus wept as in John 11. But take a look at that text (again Matt. 26:37): "And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee" (that would be James and John), "and began to be sorrowful and very heavy." I wonder why on that occasion that he was so sorrowful. Well, you know as well as I do that he knew that probably in just a matter of hours that he was going to have to go to the cross. He knew that had been his mission. But the human side of our Lord would have been just like any of us. If we had known that we were going to die such a horrible death, I am sure that we would also be in a spirit of sorrow and are hearts would be heavy, wouldn't it? But there might also be some other reasons. I suggest these to you for consideration. He had been so close to his apostles, especially Peter, James, and John and of course all the others. But he knew again what his mission was and he knew that before long he was going to have to say goodby to them. And he was only human. Haven't you wept when you had to say goodby to some close friend? Certainly. But then in addition to that, I am sure that he realized the tremendous task that he had placed upon these disciples and apostles, to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He must have known the tremendous burdens they would labor under and some of them, of course, would be killed for his cause. That must have bothered him, too. But even in addition to that, knowing the all wise and long-seeing God, there might have been something else. He probably knew that down through the years, while there would be some who would accept him, he also realized there would be some who would reject him. Some of his own people rejected him. John 1:11. But then some of them accepted him. Only just a short time later, when Jesus began to talk about eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood, they said this is a hard saying, and so they walked no more with him.
And so I am wondering this morning, if Jesus weeps as he looks down upon the earth and he sees those who have not yet responded to the gospel, as well as those who at one time did respond to the gospel but on the other hand turned back into the world and became a part of the weak and beggarly elements, to use the expression of Paul in Gal. 4:9. Now there is a passage of scripture that I think fits in with that. Let me share that with you from Heb. 6:4-6: "For it is impossible," says that divine writer, "for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance;" (this is what I want you to see) "seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." Not only do I believe that Jesus weeps when he sees what is happening down here, but I think it just puts him to shame. Can you just imagine the son of God going through spiritually the same things that he had to go through with physically?
So, in closing, I ask the same question: Could Jesus Still Be Weeping? Based upon what we have seen in our lesson this morning and we could go further if time permitted, I think we could see many more things that would verify the fact that, yes, Jesus, in that spirit world above, looks down on the physical world and sees the things that he tried to establish in the hearts of men and women and they have turned their back upon him. Two possible things probably are at the height of the list. I have already mentioned it but I will mention it again. Number one, when he sees people continually rejecting the gospel. I don't know what the situation here is this morning, but there just may be some in our audience who have heard the gospel preached for years, never responded to it. I would like for you to think about how Jesus thinks about your situation.
And then, there are those who have responded to the gospel only to turn away from the gospel. Well, Peter says the latter end with them is worse than the beginning. So, if that is the case, then this seems to be reason to believe that it might even more so break the heart of Jesus and cause him to weep.
Now I ask you another question. Are you in either of these two categories? Have you not obeyed the gospel - faith, repentance, confession of Christ, and baptism? Have you obeyed the gospel and then because of some great temptation or some problem, you have turned your back upon him and you cease to walk with him. Don't reject the call of the Savior any longer. If you are in either one of these two categories, we would bid you to come.