Tears are Treasured
A study on all the Tears in the New Testament
A study on all the Tears in the New Testament
A guest entry by author, editor and independent scholar,
There are few words spoken by women in these gospels, but many tears are shed and recorded, mostly by women, some even by Jesus, the man of sorrows. The fact that all these tears are detailed says that God values all our precious tears, whether for joy or sorrow. Psalm 56:8 tells us that, “God knows our troubles and our wanderings, stores all our tears in a bottle, has counted each one of them, and they are recorded in the Book.”
The beginning of the New Testament opens with glad tidings, the announcement of two children, which brought tears of joy to Elizabeth and Mary. This joy would be short lived for Mary, as Joseph tells her that he will put her away her quietly. The betrothed was heartbroken, to say the least. An angel in a dream restores their marriage. After Jesus is born, Mary and Joseph bring the child to the temple, and it is prophesied to Mary that, “a sword will pierce your soul.” Lk 2:35. When Jesus was missing for days, she would have been beside herself with worry, but Mary would experience many more tears.
Following the joyful birth of Jesus, other women are not so lucky. Mt 2:18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.” Those women were bereft; Herod had given the order; the soldiers had killed their babies.
There was a woman in Lk 7:37-44,
“who had a bad name… and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment. She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment. 'You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair.” Jesus was touched by her tears.
There was another woman, taken in adultery, Jn 8:1-11. This woman would have been shocked, sobbing uncontrollably, knowing she would be stoned.
A man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, had a daughter who died. Lk 8:52 “They were all crying and mourning for her, but Jesus said, 'Stop crying; she is not dead, but asleep.” No doubt the woman who touched his hem, and was healed of her hemorrhage for 12 years would have rejoiced. Other women who would have wept with joy are the Syrophoenecian woman whose daughter was cured, the widow of Nain whose son was brought back to life and given back to her, the woman who had a crooked back for 18 years… and many more who heard the wonderful words of their Lord.
Jesus was friends with Martha, Mary and Lazarus. When Lazarus died, everyone wept. Even Jesus wept. Jn 11 says,
“When the Jews who were in the house comforting Mary saw her get up so quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Mary went to Jesus, and as soon as she saw him she threw herself at his feet, saying, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.' At the sight of her tears, and those of the Jews who had come with her, Jesus was greatly distressed, and with a profound sigh he said, 'Where have you put him?' They said, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept; and the Jews said, 'See how much he loved him ' Sighing, Jesus thanked God.”
In Lk 23:28 Women wailed, “But Jesus turned to them and said, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children.” He had such deep concern for mothers and their children.
There is no telling how many tears were shed at that cross or the tomb, by Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and the other women. Their grief would have been unbearable. But on Resurrection morning, their tears of sorrow turn to shouts of joy.
Mk 16:1 says, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices with which to go and anoint him.” These women were still mourning for Jesus. Tears are louder than words.
Jn 20 says (twice) to Mary Magdalene, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Then he called her name, “Mary, go and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' So Mary of Magdala told the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord'.” Mk 16:10 “Mary Magdalene then went to those who had been his companions, and who were mourning and in tears, and told them.”
Apparently it was important to mention even in Acts 9:39 that, “all the widows stood round him in tears, showing him tunics and other clothes Dorcas had made when she was with them.” Another woman was brought back to life. Our tears are not for naught.
Jesus paid attention to all the tears; he saw them; he acknowledged them; he even cried with them. There are many tears in the NT, which says that Jesus knows our suffering, he hears our cries. Jesus also promised in Jn 16:22, “Now you are having pain. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
Thank God all our tears are recorded; each tear is counted, for our consolation. Jesus hears our cries; Jesus sees our tears. Jesus even cries with us.