One: Jesus Weeps Our Tears

Jesus wept.

Gathering to Listen

In his book Windows of the Soul, Ken Gire observes:

Perhaps there are no greater windows of the soul than our tears.

The tears we cry are drawn from the well of who we are, a well that lies beneath the sedimentary strata of words, beneath even the Pre-cambrian layer of consciousness itself. They may seep to the surface like the smallest of subterranean springs or shoot to the surface like a geyser. They surface for odd reasons, or for no reason at all, or for reasons so pure and right and good that no force on earth could hold them back....

So much is distilled in our tears, not the least of which is wisdom in living life. From my own tears I have learned that if you follow your tears, you will find your heart. If you find your heart, you will find what is dear to God. And if you find what is dear to God, you will find the answer to how you should live your life.

Encountering Jesus

In this passage we see Jesus's response to the tears of his friends.

Read John 11:1-37.

  1. Jesus heard about Lazarus's life-threatening illness but didn't go to see him for two days. Do you find this unusual?
  1. The disciples of Jesus are fearful of his return to Judea because of a death threat. He goes nonetheless because he has a greater purpose than self-preservation. How do the disciples respond, and what is their attitude (verses 11-16)?
  1. What do you notice about the things Mary and Martha say to Jesus?

What is their attitude when he first arrives, and how does that change?

  1. Consider Jesus' response to Mary and Martha, especially the tears of Mary. Though he knows he is about to raise Lazarus from the dead, he weeps and is moved deeply. What does this tell you about Jesus? (See especially verses 33-36.)

Joining the Conversation

  1. Reflect on how you respond to the suffering and death of people you know and love. What do you find disturbing or encouraging about Jesus' response here?
  1. Based on this story of Jesus, what words would you use to describe him?

Would any of these words also be used to describe you?

Connecting Our Stories

  1. American funerals are often brief, followed by a meal. But in other cultures it is normal to mourn together for days, as we see in this story. What has been your experience of dealing with grief and sorrow?

Have you ever had someone mourn with you over a death or difficulty in your life? If so, talk about that experience.

  1. Each of us has shed tears of grief or sorrow. Does it make a difference to know that Jesus shares in that sorrow, embraces our tears and offers comfort? Or do you feel God does not care about your pain?
  1. What does the resurrection of Lazarus mean for those of us who weep and mourn?

Finding Our Way

  1. Verses 25-27 are some of the most powerful in the Bible. Having a clear picture of who Jesus is will affect how we view life, friendship, suffering and death. Has your view of Jesus changed by reading this story?

How might that play out in your life?

  1. There is comfort now and resurrection hope for the future for all who mourn. Take a moment to express your grief and hope to each other. You may want to express your emotions to God and others in a journal or on a notepad, and then share some of these in groups of two or three.

Praying Together

Remaining in small groups of two or three, spend some time in quietness. Read Psalm 6 and reflect on a time when you felt sadness, even shed tears. Were you aware of God's presence with you at that time? If not, ask him to meet you now as you remember that situation. Ask him to bring comfort and hope. The power and love of Christ is available now—directly and through the embrace and prayers of others in the group.

Spend some time praying as a group, thanking Jesus for embracing each of us in our tears, whether they were tears of sadness, disappointment, loneliness or grief.