Another tragic news story made the headlines this week: a beautiful preteen girl killed by two teenage boys—a senseless, appalling murder for no other reason than a BMX bike. I look at the victim’s young face and see the face of my daughter . . . my nieces . . . my daughter’s friends . . . and I can’t help but cry at the ugliness . . . the utter depravity of it all. Where is God in all this? Doesn’t he care? How could a loving God allow this to happen?
Maybe the best way to answer those questions is to look at the heart of God through his Son Jesus. Two passages in scripture tell us that Jesus wept. In one, he is visiting the grave of a friend. The passage tells us “When Jesus saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”(John 11:33) Some translations interpret this emotion as anger. A few verses later we are told that Jesus wept so violently that the people who witnessed it marveled at how much he loved his friend.
But was Jesus weeping over Lazarus? I don’t think so. He knew he was about to raise Lazarus from the grave. Instead, the passage gives us a glimpse of the heart of a loving God, angry and distressed because his people are distressed—because the perfect world he created is now held captive by the ugly hand of death.
We see a similar emotion in Jesus in the midst of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem a week before his own death. As he rounds a corner and sees the city of Jerusalem stretched out before him, he breaks down and cries. He sees her future—one of war, desolation, murder and pain both in the immediate future and in the centuries to come. His sorrow that day is echoed a few days later in the temple courtyards when he laments,
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)
You. Were. Not. Willing.—four words that break the heart of a loving God. His plan for his creation has always been life, not death. Light, not darkness. Good, not evil. Yet, over and over, we reject his plan—choosing instead to be our own gods, to do it our way. And his response to our rejection?
After weeping over the city, our Savior continued down the path to Jerusalem, knowing full well the crowd that cheered him that day would be calling for his crucifixion by the end of the week. Knowing full well that he would soon bear the sins of all the murderers, thieves, liars, hypocrites, haters, scoffers and mockers on himself, giving mankind a second chance. That’s the heart of a loving God.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)