Few of the world’s great leaders have had followers to shed tears at their passing. In this country, Franklin Roosevelt did. Martin Luther King did. John F. Kennedy did. Sadly, many rulers’ deaths have been greeted with joyous celebration.
Lately I reread those passages that detail the death of Christ and was again surprised that few of the men who had followed Him cried. Luke records that “…there followed Him a great company of people and of women, which also bewailed and lamented Him.” Since the response of Christ was, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me but weep for yourselves and your children” I think it must have been the women who were tearful. Luke 23:27,28. It is strange that weeping is not mentioned of the men. Simon Peter had wept bitterly when the enormity of his sin of denying Christ dawned upon him. But tears are not mentioned as he viewed the crucifixion. Nor are they mentioned of John or any of the other Apostles.
They must have been terribly disappointed. Two of the disciples, as they traveled toward Emmaus, explained, “…we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” To see all the miracles that proved His divinity and accept the claims He had made that He was the Messiah for which Israel had eagerly looked and then see their King enthroned on a cross, must have devastated them. But they did not cry. On the first day of the week, Mary was standing outside the empty sepulcher weeping when the angel said, “Woman, why weepest thou?” Then when Christ appeared, He told her to enter the city and tell the others He was risen.
We are accustomed, when we try to explain the Gospel to people, to emphasize that when Christ was crucified, He suffered just as much as we would if we had nails driven through our hands and feet and were suspended by these wounds upon a cross. But wonder with me, may it not have been much greater suffering? I think it is significant that when the death of Christ is mentioned in the scriptures, the greater number of times the word “suffer” is used rather that “death.” Samples of this would be Luke 24:45, “…it behooved Christ to suffer.” Heb. 13:12, “…Jesus also suffered without the gate.” “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins…” I Peter 3:18. Why might His suffering have been far greater?
The death of Christ involved suffering for sins that had accumulated since the foundation of the world plus all the sins that would be committed from His death forward until the end of time. He suffered, not just for Himself, but for us all. Isaiah says, “He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows…he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities…” Isaiah 53:4,5. He cried for a Jerusalem that had refused to accept Him and even today is filled with grief when we fail Him. There is reason enough for us to cry also! But do we?