I can vividly recall my Mom taking communion on Sunday. I was just a child. But as I sat next to her I could see tears well up in her eyes. I could sense the emotion. I didn’t understand it as a kid, but I knew it was a serious and solemn time.
Tears testify to human emotions. In times of sadness, suffering, and sorrow. Tears speak when words fail us. They convey compassion. They express the yearning of the Heart. They communicate the state of the spirit. They reveal the innermost soul of a person.
The Friday that Jesus went to the cross was preceded by a stop in Gethsemane’s garden. There he prayed. Earnestly. Fervently. Emotionally. Matthew’s account records that Jesus “began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’”
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt 22:38-39)
The Hebrew writer gives us a bit more insight to Jesus’ demeanor in the garden. In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (Heb 5:7, ESV)
Now in the shadow of the cross, Jesus tears would testify to heavy cross he would carry. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. The load of care. The weight of humanity’s sins. The burden he would bear so ours could be lifted.
Jesus became our High Priest who was able to be touched by the feelings of our infirmities (Heb. 4:15). He hurt. He sighed. He cried. He knew the pain of rejection. The anguish of physical and mental torture. And the hurt of betrayal.
You see, if you look in the shadows you seeing another familiar face crying all alone. No, more than crying… sobbing. Bitterly weeping. And wailing. Who is this person? None other than Peter. The rugged fisherman. The ever confident comrade of Christ. The gregarious spokesman for the apostles. The sword-welding defender of Jesus against a band soldiers.
Peter’s sobs speak to his sin of denial. His courage turned to cowardice. And his strength turned to weakness. Not once. Not twice. But three times he failed. Miserable failed. And now his tears testify to his sorrow. His admission of guilt. His desire for forgiveness.
Now on the way to the cross, Jesus passes by the women who followed Him throughout His ministry. Their tears are evident. And their cries audible. (Lk. 23:37). And while not specifically stated, it’s not a stretch of the imagination as we see Mary, Jesus’ mother, standing at the foot of the cross with tear-stained cheeks.
Tears were in abundance on Friday that spoke to Jesus’ humanity, His innocence, and mankind’s sins.
However, Sunday’s resurrection turned their sadness into gladness. And their tears into cries of triumph. The tomb is empty! He arose! He’s alive! The tears of tribulation have dried and now their eyes glisten with joy.
When I come to communion on Sunday, it is not a religious ritual. Or a mental acquiescence. Or an intellectual exercise. It’s an emotional journey. A trip to Calvary. A visit to the old rugged cross. A glimpse of my savior beaten. Bruised And bleeding. For me. And for you.
It is a trail of tears.
My mom felt it.
May God help me to feel it too.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman