Jesus dries our tears

The sermon was about weeping, but the situation was anything but sad! On the contrary, those who weep are to be consoled. This was the message of the Chief Apostle during a divine service in Strasbourg (France) on 15 November 2020.

Chief Apostle Schneider had actually planned to be in Buenos Aires (Argentina) that Sunday, but the current Covid-19 situation is making travel impossible. So the Chief Apostle conducted an online service for the congregations in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. “I wanted to have fellowship with you and to experience this divine service with you,” he said in his opening words.

On the subject of weeping

The two sentences that the service was based on were taken from John 20: 13: “Then they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’” We are talking about the events around Easter when the risen Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene. She was a close disciple of the Son of God, “out of love for the Lord”, as the Chief Apostle put it. Even after He had died she still wanted to do something for Him by anointing His body. But the tomb was empty. “She must have been desperate when she could not find her Lord. Instead she encountered the gardener.” Only gradually did it dawn on her who was actually talking to her!

The Marys of today

Even today there are many such Marys, the Chief Apostle said. “They follow the Lord out of gratitude and love, serve Him, bring their offerings and sacrifices, and are faithful even when afflictions and other trials strike.” This also applies to the brothers and sisters in South America: despite all kinds of difficulties, illness, great economic hardship, in spite of violence and crime they remain faithful to the Lord. “I would like to make something clear: I really admire that and have great respect.”

Tears in distress

Of course the question sometimes comes up: “But where is the Lord now? Has He become powerless? He can no longer help Me. I have no strength left”, is how the Chief Apostle put it. Precisely in such situations the Lord wants to know: “Why are you weeping?” The Chief Apostle said that the Lord does not blame us for having become weak. This question is not an accusation, but a sign of His love and devotion. “Jesus wants to show us through this question that He cares about us and takes part in our suffering.” At the same time, He exhorts us: “Tell me what’s on your mind. Open your heart. Keep talking to Me.”

Tears of remorse

“Why are you weeping?” Peter also cried in his time. When Jesus had been arrested, Peter denied Him three times. The cock crowed and Jesus looked at Him, the Bible tells us. And then Peter wept bitterly. This did not change His love for the Lord, the Chief Apostle remarked during his sermon.

“We are weak, we fall into temptation, and sin. And then we weep. And the Lord asks us: ‘Why are you weeping?’” True remorse is born out of love for the Lord. “And the Risen One tells us: ‘I am here for you, I defend you. I died for you. I forgive you.’”

Tears of grief

There are many other reasons why people weep, for example when grief strikes. But Jesus Christ can even understand such situations, the Chief Apostle said. “Think of the scene at the tomb of Lazarus. The shortest phrase of the Bible says: ‘Jesus wept.’” Anyone who has experienced such a loss knows that such deep sadness does not go away fast. “You can always come to the Lord Jesus and cry on His shoulder. He understands you. He comforts us: death cannot separate us forever. There will be a reunion.”

Tears for those close to us

There are still other tears that Jesus can understand very well: “When we weep over those who no longer attend the services.” Jesus wept over Jerusalem, the Chief Apostle said, because they did not come when He wanted to gather them. “His consolation also applies here: ‘I will not give up on them. I am the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep.’ I would like to pass on this consolation to the many brothers and sisters, to the many parents. Continue to love your loved ones, pray for them, and trust in the Lord. He will not give up on them and will not abandon them.”

Photo: ENA France

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Peter Johanning
Chief Apostle, Divine service