13 Jesus WeptJesus wept wins the prize for "Shortest Bible Verse". Certainly, as such it wins the "All-time Less is More Award" as well. Never were two little words packed with so much power and significance. Also, as is usual in these cases, there is disagreement as to the true meaning. Today we will explore the resonance and ramifications of the tears of Jesus.
First, the scripture from the Gospel of John in which the episode appears:
John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.Our purpose, here, is to get at the REASON Jesus wept. Since, as Christians, our ultimate goal is to be Christ-like, understanding one of Jesus' most ambiguous acts should be of interest; if, in emulating the Christ, we, too, should weep, the main question is, "Why?". Certainly one of the other questions is, "How?". In researching this text, I found this fascinating detail of translation: the correct translation is not, "Jesus wept," but, "Jesus wept silently." It seems that to many of the scholars commenting on this text, this nuance is common knowledge, but I did not know this until a few days ago.
John 11:2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
John 11:3 Therefore his sisters sent to him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.
John 11:4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
John 11:5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
John 11:6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he stayed two days still in the same place where he was.
John 11:7 Then after that said he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
John 11:8 His disciples say to him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone you; and go you thither again?
John 11:9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbles not, because he sees the light of this world.
John 11:10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him.
John 11:11 These things said he: and after that he said to them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
John 11:12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
John 11:13 However, Jesus spoke of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
John 11:14 Then said Jesus to them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
John 11:15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you may believe; nevertheless let us go to him.
John 11:16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, to his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
John 11:17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
John 11:18 Now Bethany was near to Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
John 11:19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
John 11:20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
John 11:21 Then said Martha to Jesus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died.
John 11:22 But I know, that even now, whatever you will ask of God, God will give it you.
John 11:23 Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again.
John 11:24 Martha said to him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
John 11:26 And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Believe you this?
John 11:27 She said to him, Yes, Lord: I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
John 11:28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calls for you.
John 11:29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came to him.
John 11:30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
John 11:31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goes to the grave to weep there.
John 11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying to him, Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died.
John 11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
John 11:34 And said, Where have you laid him? They said to him, Lord, come and see.
John 11:35 Jesus wept.
From Vincent's Word Studies:
A different verb from that in John 11:31. From δάκρυ, tear, and meaning to shed tears, to weep silently. Only here in the New Testament. Κλαίω, to weep audibly, is once used of our Lord in Luke 19:41:
"And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,""
[Sidebar: The idea of weeping silently will attain greater significance as we continue.]
Barnes' Notes on the Bible:
"Jesus wept - It has been remarked that this is the shortest verse in the Bible; but it is exceedingly important and tender. It shows the Lord Jesus as a friend, a tender friend, and evinces his character as a man. And from this we learn:
1. That the most tender personal friendship is not inconsistent with the most pure religion. Piety binds stronger the ties of friendship, makes more tender the emotions of love, and seals and sanctifies the affections of friends.
2. It is right, it is natural, it is indispensable for the Christian to sympathize with others in their afflictions. Romans 12:15; "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."
3. Sorrow at the death of friends is not improper. It is right to weep. It is the expression of nature and religion does not forbid or condemn it. All that religion does in the case is to temper and chasten our grief; to teach us to mourn with submission to God; to weep without complaining, and to seek to banish tears, not by hardening the heart or forgetting the friend, but by bringing the soul, made tender by grief, to receive the sweet influences of religion, and to find calmness and peace in the God of all consolation.
4. We have here an instance of the tenderness of the character of Jesus, The same Savior wept over Jerusalem, and felt deeply for poor dying, sinners. To the same tender and compassionate Saviour Christians may now come Hebrews 4:15; and to him the penitent sinner may also come, knowing that he will not cast him away."
"Jesus wept - Out of sympathy with those who were in tears all around him, as well as from a deep sense of the misery sin had brought upon human nature."
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:
"Jesus wept-This beautifully conveys the sublime brevity of the two original words; else "shed tears" might have better conveyed the difference between the word here used and that twice employed in Joh 11:33, and there properly rendered "weeping," denoting the loud wail for the dead, while that of Jesus consisted of silent tears."
[Sidebar: Did you get that? SILENT TEARS.]
"Is it for nothing that the Evangelist, some sixty years after it occurred, holds up to all ages with such touching brevity the sublime spectacle of the Son of God in tears? What a seal of His perfect oneness with us in the most redeeming feature of our stricken humanity! But was there nothing in those tears beyond sorrow for human suffering and death? Could these effects move Him without suggesting the cause? Who can doubt that in His ear every feature of the scene proclaimed that stern law of the Kingdom, "The wages of sin is death" (Ro 6:23), and that this element in His visible emotion underlay all the rest?"
[Sidebar: It is time to emphasize the several ideas that are expressed repeatedly in regard to this passage. We have the primary interpretation, that Jesus:
in spite of His foreknowledge that He will raise Lazarus from the dead,
in spite of the even larger issue that He knows better than anyone, that there is no death, and all this brouhaha about dying is an admission of human weakness and attachment,
He still sympathizes with the grief of His friends and weeps with them, thus admitting to the tender frailty of His humanity.
Then we have the secondary consideration that the whole issue of death brings up in Jesus the sorrow that must necessarily be "from a deep sense of the misery sin had brought upon human nature", and must furthermore be associated with the foreknowledge of "stricken humanity".
In both interpretations, the presence of Jesus ability to see the future plays a key role.
We will encounter yet a third interpretation below, but I want to save it for awhile, heeheehee.
The following is from the Commentary on John 11:17-27, 32-36 International Bible Lessons, Sunday, May 20, 2012, by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. This commentary was quite long, so I cut it down somewhat; but there are still some important details, here, that need to be brought out:
"(John 11:17) When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.
Because Lazarus was sick, his family sent for Jesus to come to heal him. He could have healed Lazarus from a distance, as He had healed others; instead, Jesus waited until Lazarus had died before returning to Bethany (John 11:1-6; Luke 7:1-10). To teach His disciples and others that He was the resurrection and the life, Jesus wanted to raise Lazarus from the dead in their presence. Jesus planned His arrival time, and Lazarus had definitely died when Jesus arrived outside Bethany.
(John 11:18) Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away,
In order to distinguish this Bethany from the Bethany where John the Baptist had preached and baptized Jesus and others, John identified this Bethany as being about 2 miles from Jerusalem. A Sabbath day’s journey was about 1 mile; therefore, someone could not travel to and from Bethany and Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Jesus ascended into heaven from Bethany (Luke 24:48-53).
(John 11:19) and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.
Jesus was a dear friend of Lazarus and his family. Jesus sometimes taught and dined in the home of Mary and Martha. Their home was large enough for many to gather to hear Jesus teach. Their family was influential, and many Jews came to console Lazarus’ sisters, some coming even from Jerusalem, for some returned to report on Jesus’ good deed to the Pharisees and chief priests (John 11:45-47)."
[Sidebar: It is not a trivial point that the home of Lazarus was a meeting place. This fact provides a possible explanation as why Jesus delays his arrival; it cannot be denied that Jesus had a flare for the theatrical, and there is more than one episode in His life when He does things in order to draw maximum attention to Himself and His message. When He hears of Lazarus' illness, He says:
"This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."Clearly, He means to glorify God through a public display of His own miraculous powers over life and death. If, by delaying His arrival until more mourners have arrived to pay their respects, He can play to a bigger audience, why not?
Back to Parkhurst:]
"(John 11:21) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
We can imagine Martha and Mary and their family and friends saying, “If only Jesus had been here,” over and over again to each other as they mourned Lazarus’ death, because Mary used the same words when she met Jesus (John 11:32). So they would not worry, perhaps they had also encouraged Lazarus and one another that Jesus would come and heal him before Lazarus died.
(John 11:32) When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Mary came to Jesus and Martha. She told Jesus what Martha had told Jesus. She too expressed her faith that Jesus had the power to heal her brother, but like Martha confined Jesus’ ability to heal to His actual physical presence with them – this would be natural and logical to conclude. Mary went with Martha to see Jesus after Martha told her that Jesus wanted her to come. Martha called Jesus, “the Teacher” (11:28)."
[Sidebar: It is interesting that both Martha and Mary say the same thing when they first see Jesus:
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
It is not hard not to hear, in this, a pained accusation: "Jesus, where were you? We waited, we prayed, and still you did not come! Why did you delay, when a little speed on your part might have saved our brother, might have spared US the pain of losing him? The sentence above, "perhaps they had also encouraged Lazarus and one another that Jesus would come and heal him before Lazarus died," offers a tantalizing spin on the whole social dynamic of the scene: clearly these people have absolute faith in Jesus' power over illness; but any further than this, they could not imagine. They held out hope, to the last, that the Jesus cavalry would come galloping the rescue, and when He failed them, in their eyes, the disappointment was intensified--I'm sure their faith was shaken as well. Thus, Jesus' primary agenda item out of this affair was dramatized: Jesus came to prove that He not only had power over illness, but that He had power over death. Imagine the joy they felt as the Jesus cavalry snatched life from the very jaws of death! As we mentioned in our last sermon, 12 The One Door -- II, the bottom line of Jesus' good news to the world was, "THERE IS NO DEATH". In this story the flamboyance of Jesus' dramaturgy is at its peak--except, of course, for the story of His own self-generated resurrection.
Back to Parkhurst:]
"(John 11:33) When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.
Some scholars teach that Jesus was angry at death and the sorrow death brings, but He was not angry with himself as the Creator and the Giver of life. Jesus’ humanity moved Him to feel deeply the sorrow that humans feel when facing death. Jesus knows exactly, from personal human experience, the feelings humans have when death separates them from a loved one.
(John 11:35) Jesus began to weep.
Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; among other verses, John 11:35 supports this prophecy from Isaiah (see Isaiah 53:3). John shows Jesus loved Lazarus and He wept that the one He loved needed to go through the process of dying to go to heaven, a kingdom not of this world. He wept for those who had suffered separation from Lazarus because of his death. Paul wrote, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Perhaps Jesus wept because He knew that to glorify God and answer the prayers of Martha and Mary He would need to bring Lazarus back from the glories of heaven and return him to Earth where he would die once again (we do not learn when Lazarus died again, but the enemies of Jesus plotted his death: John 12:10)."
[Sidebar: This last, "the enemies of Jesus plotted his (Lazarus')death" is also very interesting. The story of the raising of Lazarus must have been a terrible blow to the Jews who sought to discredit Jesus as the Messiah. I'm sure they spared no pains in doing what they could to nullify this miracle. There is a striking scene in Martin Scorcese's film, The Last Temptation of Christ, where the Zealots are seen murdering Lazarus, very shortly after his resurrection.]
Back to the subject of Martha' shaken faith: the following piece discusses the relevance of another of Jesus' sayings on this occasion:
Tony J. Alicea January 18, 2011
Why Jesus Wept--Martha’s Theology
"While Jesus was about two miles away, Martha goes out to meet him while Mary stays at the house (interesting). Let’s look at the interaction. It is a bit long but you really have to see what happens here:
“Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” John 11:21-27
I don’t know about you but I read this in a very matter-of-fact tone. At first glance, it looks like Martha is saying all of the right things. Lazarus is dead but she professes that even still, anything that Jesus asks, God will give. She even gives some solid theology about the resurrection. I look at that and give her props! Good word, Martha!
But Jesus knows the heart. Look at what He asks her. He says “I am the resurrection…Do you believe this?” Again, her response is spot on. But why did Jesus ask her that in the midst of her mourning?
I believe He wanted to address her theology. Hers was a theology of the mind. She said all the right words but she didn’t know His heart. You can’t tell this by her words but Jesus knew Martha’s heart. She was the one that lost sight of the “one thing that is necessary”. I believe that one thing is intimacy with Jesus."
[Sidebar: The point here is that Jesus discerned in, Martha's comments, the shadow of doubt. He chastens her by making her repeat her statement of faith:
“Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
But still His insistent questioning, "Do you believe this?” implies, not necessarily that she does not believe, but that she does not believe ENOUGH. We have been raised on the resurrection of Jesus--we have heard the story many, many times, and are quite used to it; but remember how new this all was to Jesus' contemporaries--I'm sure that, even with their burgeoning faith, there were still many things they could just no get their minds around. As a teacher, I know how many times you have to tell students the same thing, over and over, before they finally get it, before they finally own it in themselves. In spite of the lip service they paid to Jesus, I'm sure that Jesus, as the teacher, knew that He had to demonstrate His power over death again and again before His disciples would truly believe.
Back to Alicea:]
"You can’t tell this by her words but Jesus knew Martha’s heart. She was the one that lost sight of the “one thing that is necessary”. I believe that one thing is intimacy with Jesus.
Mary had it, let’s look at her encounter with Jesus.
Notice that in verse 28 Jesus calls for Mary. Again, interesting difference in how Martha went out to Jesus with her words.
Okay now check this out, Mary says the exact same thing that Martha says to Jesus. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus saw her weeping and “He was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled”. After He asks where they have laid Lazarus, we see the shortest verse in the Bible:
My heart is pumping hard in my chest just writing this. Jesus is overwhelmed with compassion in His heart. He weeps with Mary in her hour of despair. He loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus intensely. He knew the very thing He came for was to raise Lazarus from the dead. And still, He wept.
Mary’s response to Jesus wasn’t in an attempt to have the “right” answer. She believed that if Jesus was there, He would have healed Lazarus. Jesus didn’t need to correct her theology. Mary had the theology of intimacy. She knew His heart. I believe that is what moved Jesus to weep."
The idea of Jesus weeping, out of sympathy for His disciples in pain over losing a friend and brother, is given a slightly different spin by C.S. Lewis. The following is from:
C. S. Lewis: The Sense or Nonsense of the Christian Idea (Part 5 of 5) by Jacob Schriftman:
"I ended my last post by saying that C. S. Lewis could quite easily picture a universe in which vicariousness has been redeemed and is only used in a good way. In his view, we do not have to throw out Nature with the bathwater. The Christian message neither merely confirms nor flatly contradicts our experience in nature, but offers a new twist to a recognized principle."
[Sidebar: The point, here, is that Jesus weeps because, as a product of Nature, He participates in one of the activities of Nature: vicarious connection with all other creatures on the physical plane. People of many religious persuasions deny the spirituality of the physical as Maya, and reject those limitations outright. As we have lately been affirming, repeatedly, Jesus came to validate the spirituality of the physical, thus creating the possibility of a Heaven on Earth. It would follow, therefore, that any of the participations of His disciples, in Natural vicariousness, would also be behaviors available and proper to Him.
Back to Schriftman:]
"The Christian message neither merely confirms nor flatly contradicts our experience in nature, but offers a new twist to a recognized principle.
That point is an important one, because it distinguishes Christianity from the vicariousness of other religions that are either nature religions or anti-nature religions. The nature religions simply drive men to fulfill their natural desires: “You actually got drunk in the temple of Bacchus. You actually committed fornication in the temple of Aphrodite. The nature religions simply give a new sanction to what I already always thought about the universe in my moments of rude health and cheerful brutality.”
And the anti-natural religions are simply a flat denial of nature: “I starve my flesh. I care not whether I live or die.” This merely repeats “what I have always thought about it in my moods of lassitude, or delicacy, or compassion.”
But Christianity is different. It never says that death does not matter, that we ought to deny nature altogether. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus and shed tears of blood in Gethsemane. Death—that is, Christ’s vicarious suffering—is “an appalling horror; a stinking indignity.”And yet, it is not only that. It is also infinitely good. “Christianity does not simply affirm or simply deny the horror of death: it tells me something quite new about it.”
In the line, "Death is an appalling horror; a stinking indignity. And yet, it is not only that. It is also infinitely good," there is a subtle implication that leads us to our next point; the implication is that:
the vicarious character of Jesus' weeping may not have been merely sympathy for His loved ones, but may have included a component of transcendent wisdom.
The interpretation, of Jesus' weeping out of sympathy for His disciples in pain, is overwhelmingly endorsed by the majority of commentators on this scripture. But, as I mentioned above, there is yet a third interpretation of the sentence, "Jesus wept," and it is a radical interpretation, to be sure. This interpretation comes from, you guessed it, Rudolf Steiner. From I AM the Resurrection and the Life - Five by Kristina Kaine, we read:
"Rudolf Steiner says that it was not for sorrow but for joy that Jesus wept. He wept for joy that the god in Lazarus may be manifest, that the I AM in him may be revealed."
Remember that, above, we emphasized the point the "Jesus wept silently." Elsewhere, the point has been made that the weeping of mourners was a loud raucous affair, street theater in a quite legitimate sense of the term. Jesus weeping silently makes two points:
1. that He wasn't making His weeping a part of the show, and
2. this expression of inner, private feeling may mean something other than the outward displays of sorrow, that were felt to be appropriate by everyone else there.
At this point we get closer to the complex meaning of the sentence, "Jesus wept." Surely, the idea of weeping out of sympathy cannot, under any circumstances, be discounted; but the wrinkle that Steiner adds about, "weeping for joy", must not be dismissed offhandedly either. Why couldn't it have been BOTH? Smiling through tears is a concept that has been legitimized at many times, by many religions. Indeed the balance between joy and sorrow might well be a valid definition of the "middle path" that is a cornerstone of Gautama Buddha's teaching, and it certainly qualifies as a possible interpretation of Steiner's insistence on balancing the Satanic and Ahrimanic consciousnesses.
Balance between opposites is the larger subject into which we have entered, and there is way too much to be said. However, we absolutely may not mention the balance of polar opposites without at least a sidelong tip of the hat to ying and yang:
From Urban dictionary:
A ying-yang is a circular symbol split in half so that each half looks like a sideways tear-drop. The two sides are labeled Ying and Yang. Ying is white with a circle of black in the bulb of its tear and has the point of the tear up. Yang is black with a circle of white in the bulb of its tear, its point is down.
A ying-yang symbolizes the belief that there are two sides to everything. No light without dark, no day without night, no happiness without sadness, no good without bad, etc.
It also shows that nothing is purely good or bad or so on and so forth."
In keeping, with my efforts to provide a common ground for comparing and contrasting some of the New Age, and Eastern religious philosophies, I was interested to find the following article on the web:
Jesus and Yin Yang
Posted: January 2, 2011:
"It struck me yesterday as I drove behind a car with a yin yang sticker that there is a key understanding about the person of Jesus that can be better seen through a simplistic look at the yin yang of Taoist Chinese philosophy. I know I am comparing polar opposites here, Jesus, who chose to save the people he helped create from eternal destruction, and Taoist philosophy which is most often contrary to the teachings of Jesus. While I do not wish for anyone to decide that Jesus and yin yang can exist as mutual beliefs, I do, however, think that we can use the concept of yin yang to learn something important about the nature of Jesus.
“The concept of yin yang is used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other.” (Thanks to Wikipedia for explaining it far more simply than most other sources I could find.) This basic concept of seemingly opposite forces that are interconnected and interdependent is that which I believe is useful for a better understanding of Jesus.
John 1:14 (NIV version) says that “the Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” As a follower of Jesus, one of my desires is to live a life that typifies the characteristics of Jesus, GRACE and TRUTH. If I can do this then I will bring God glory which in turn brings me joy. (For who can honestly say that they do not find joy in celebrating the magnificence of the things they revere?)
From my experience it is difficult to find an accurate balance between GRACE and TRUTH. How can we (those who embrace a relationship with Jesus) be full of grace and truth as Jesus was? Grace and truth can appear so contrary, and so, often, people end up being full of only GRACE or only TRUTH. My opinion is that being full of grace only, leads to an amoral culture where everything goes (seem familiar). Whilst being full of truth only, leads to a fundamentalist culture where no-one can think for themselves (also sadly familiar). How can we be full of grace and truth as Jesus was?
This is where I find yin yang to be a helpful example. We need to see grace and truth not as opposing actions but as interconnected qualities that give rise to, and strengthen, each other. The more truth we know, the more grace we show, and so on and so forth. I believe there is less purely black and white in a life of relationship with Jesus than is often believed and I believe there is more that is absolute than the other side believes. In the midst of this yin yang is the complete fullness of Jesus who totally combines all of GRACE and TRUTH to bring glory to God.
In future when I look at a yin yang symbol I am going to be reminded that Jesus is in everything and that I need to seek his TRUTH and his GRACE in order to live a balanced life."
[Sidebar: On the reasons this author chooses Grace and Truth to represent polar opposites, I choose not to speculate; but the bottom line of this little piece is that a Christlike life requires balance--a balance between all negative and positive forces. We have seen this in Steiner's theory of the Satanic and Ahrimanic forces, and in Blake's theory of contraries.]
Another example is taken from Deepak Chopra's book, God:A Story of Revelation where he gives this quote from the medieval saint, Julian of Norwich:
"God showed that sin shall be no shame, but worship. For right as to every sin is answering a pain by truth, right so for every sin, to the same soul is given a bliss by love."
The danger here, is that, in balancing these opposing forces, it is likely that we will deduce that the result is stasis, neutrality. The next comments from our lakeliveslife commentator are expressed in an extremely illiterate fashion, but, nevertheless hit on a crucial point:
"See, my thing is, Yin and Yang is actually right, in a way - if you combine darkness and light and see them as equal and complimentary forces, then it is true that they ultimately become one and the same. To put it a little simple, if you combine black and white paint, you get grey paint. Jesus, on the other hand, has come up with an ingenious way to combine darkness and light, evil and good, to produce only white/light/good. He has worked out a way to mix black and white paint and end up with white paint. And, even though his way is extremely costly (to him), he offers it to us."
Indeed, the mixing of black and white to get white is the miracle of the Christ Consciousness--except that that metaphor does not really hold water because the mixing of black and white raises the whole game to a higher level--a level where black and white do not even exist. It is a charming play on words, though, don't you think?
Again, from Julian of Norwich we read:
"Truth sees God, and wisdom beholds God, and of these two comes the third: that is, a holy marveling delight in God: which is love."
Indeed, all our verbal reasoning and bargaining comes to nothing when the spiritual power of love is thrown into the equation.
The following is an excerpt from a sermon by the Reverend Bill Darlison, June 14th, 2009:
Smiling through the Tears:
"At the beginning of February this year I gave an address called Lacrimae Rerum, ‘the tears of things’. It was inspired by a passage in Virgil’s Aeneid in which Aeneas weeps as he looks at representations of the Trojan War, and laments, ‘There are tears at the heart of things, and men’s hearts are touched by what human beings have to bear.’ The address went on to suggest that all of us are born to suffer as a condition of life, and that the realisation that this is so should engender feelings of compassion for suffering humanity within us all. At the end of the address I said that one of our greatest human qualities was the ability to smile through the tears, and I promised that one day I would preach on this. . .
I suppose that the traditional religious answer would be that our suffering here on earth is temporary, and that one day all tears will be dried and we will all live happily together in God’s kingdom, either here on earth or in the celestial realms. In heaven, they tell us, our earthly suffering will seem like a bad dream from which we have thankfully awoken. There’ll be no more pain, no more wars, no more starvation, no more crime, no more unfairness, and no more death. There are numerous scriptural passages which could be used to substantiate this particular hope. . .
We have to explore ways in which we can come to terms with our own mortality – smile through the tears. First, we can refuse to accept the bleak picture of life painted by those tortured souls who seem to have dominated the literary landscape for a century or so. Sometime in the fifties and sixties ‘happy endings’ passed out of literature and film, and it became a mark of sophistication to declare that life was pointless, and even that it would be better never to have been born at all. The plays of Samuel Beckett, which purport to strip life down to its bare essentials, and present human beings inventing ways to escape the boredom and the futility of existence, stem from a view of life which I personally cannot share, and which I suggest most human beings cannot share. Beckett’s uncle described life as ‘a disease of matter’, which is probably the most cynical and pessimistic assessment of existence ever made, but I cannot go along with it. I, no doubt like you, have waded through numerous books, and sat through countless theatrical and cinematic presentations of this depressing view of life, but I’ve never been convinced that it described my experience. Even when I considered such assessments chic and intellectually respectable, cheerfulness kept breaking through. ‘I’m glad I’m alive,’ I would think. ‘I don’t believe any of this miserable stuff, and what’s more, I don’t think the authors really believe it either.’ As Mr. Micawber says in Dickens’ David Copperfield, ‘No man needs to feel the pains of life while he has access to shaving equipment’. . .
A second way in which we can come to terms with the pains of existence is to recall frequently just how amazing it is to be alive at all. Richard Dawkins, who has been accused of taking the magic out of life by dispensing with God, says in his book Unweaving the Rainbow, that we don’t need God to appreciate the unlikely nature of our existence. He becomes almost mystical as he contemplates the vast chain of accident and coincidence, stretching into the remotest antiquity, which has produced a single human life. ‘The thread of historical events by which our existence hangs,’ he writes, ‘is wincingly tenuous’, and on the statistics of causation alone, the chances of any one of us being born are the same as the odds that ‘a penny, tossed at random, will land on a particular ant crawling somewhere along the road from New York to San Francisco’. . .
I was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2002. My condition intensified my response to life and gave me an understanding of love and commitment for which I have ever since been grateful, and it taught me not to live too far into the future. Even in the darkest days of my illness I could not remain downcast for long. I would tell myself that although my death was imminent, it was unlikely to occur today, so I could save my worrying for another time. . .
A little anonymous piece I found on the internet a while ago puts this approach in a nutshell:The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised, and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with her hair fashionably coiffed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.
Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.
After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she manoeuvred her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet curtains that had been hung on her window.
‘I love it,’ she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
‘Mrs. Jones, you haven't seen the room .... just wait.’
‘That doesn't have anything to do with it,’ she replied.
‘Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged... it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it ... It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away ... just for this time in my life. Old age is like a bank account--you withdraw from it what you've put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories. Remember the five simple rules to be happy:Free your heart from hatred.
Free your mind from worries.Live simply.Give more.Expect less.
How do we smile through the tears? We decide we are going to. It’s a choice we have to make every day."To be sure, this little piece has its problems, but the idea of choosing happiness over sadness, is not unlike the choosing the Open Door to Heaven. Hence, smiling through tears may not be a description of a state of mind as much as it describes the moment of stasis, physical existence, before positive action is taken to claim our birthright as sons of God.
On the subject of smiling through tears, I have a personal experience to relate: as I have repeated many times in the past few months, Jesus has made a Heaven available to us on earth; however, in order to access this Heaven on earth, we must exercise will, that is to say we must choose. Now, I have a lot of pain in my life--I have a lot of bad memories, lots of crummy things have happened to me. Unfortunately, it is a habit of mine to ruminate over the these memories in idle hours; I can be driving along, writing a sermon, working on music, even watching television, and at any random moment a bad memory, one of many habitual bad memories, can leap into the forefront of my mind and destroy my mood, driving me towards negative thoughts and feelings, sometimes almost to the point of suffocation. It is in these moments of negativity that I am learning to turn my thoughts toward Heaven and substitute the heavenly vision for the dark vision that I'm seeing with the eyes of bad memory. I am happy to report that I am getting better at this, day by day, and that I am getting practice at keeping it up for longer periods of time. Invariably when I choose this state of mind, when I choose to see through the veil of Maya, and observe spiritual resonance laid out before me, I invariably exchange these tears of sorrow and self-pity, for tears of joy, and those memories of my misfortunes diffuse into a disappearing mist. The tears of joy are always accompanied by a thrill that runs through my entire body, and the chattering voice of my monkey mind is drowned out by Angel voices.
What follows are a collection of meditations on the subject of smiling through tears:
Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
"And the smile that is worth the praises of earth is the smile that shines through tears."Byron:
"I laugh that I may not weep."
"Crying with the wise is better than laughing with the fool."
Sir Winston Churchill:
"I like a man who grins when he fights."
"Better by far you should forget and smile. Than that you should remember and be sad."From George MacDonld's Phantastes:
“Past tears are present strength.”
“I rose as from the death that wipes out the sadness of life, and then dies itself in the new morrow.”
“As in all sweetest music, a tinge of sadness was in every note. Nor do we know how much of the pleasures even of life we owe to the intermingled sorrows. Joy cannot unfold the deepest truths, although deepest truth must be deepest joy.”
Why did Jesus weep? Can we ever pin down the reasons for the a actions of the Christ on any occasion? I doubt it--the reasons for Divine ceremony are beyond reason itself, and thus we must understand with our hearts alone and weep with Him, and smile with Him.
Let us pray: Jesus, the magnitude of your humanity is as staggering for us to contemplate as any other aspect of Your Divine Nature. Open our hearts to receive from you the vibrations of sympathy, love, and hope. Amen.