Finished With Weeping

Heritage Presbyterian Church

Easter Sunday
April 17, 2022

Scripture – John 20: 1-18

There is certainly a lot of weeping going on in the Easter resurrection accounts from the Gospels.

  • Matthew’s Gospel doesn’t have a single line about anyone weeping on Easter morning…but he described Peter going out and weeping bitterly after he realized that he had denied Jesus three times – just as Jesus predicted.  Matthew also described Judas realizing what he had done, becoming “seized with remorse,” 

throwing the 30 pieces of silver at the chief priests and elders, and then hanging himself; don’t you think that on the dead face of poor Judas there were dried tears of remorse?

  • In Mark’s Gospel, Judas has no tears at all, but Peter does, same as in Matthew’s account; Peter “broke down and wept” when the rooster crowed.  But at the empty tomb, we have only the women coming, being told by an angel that Jesus rose and would meet his followers in Galilee.  An unofficial extra ending of Mark said that Mary Magdalene told the Apostles that Jesus had risen while they were all “mourning and weeping.”  In fact, they were so emotional they didn’t believe her!
  • Luke, the storyteller of the four Gospel writers, tells the detailed story of Jesus’ rapid burial, the official waiting period for the sabbath to be over, followed by the women coming to the tomb to properly anoint and prepare the body.  But no weeping is mentioned at all! 

Instead, we have the footrace to the empty tomb by John and Peter.  But the only one who weeps in Luke’s Gospel is Peter again, when he heard the rooster crow.

  • And finally, we come to John’s resurrection account.  No bitter weeping from Peter…not even sure he heard the rooster crow.  No weeping from Judas at all, the dirty rat.  But now we have Mary Magdalene front and center in our story.  She goes to the tomb early while it’s still dark to weep at the grave of her beloved Master.  John doesn’t tell us that she was waiting for the other women, but it makes sense; they would have brought some of the spices and ointments to prepare the body, but they needed sunlight to see what they were doing.  Perhaps Mary Magdalene would meet them there. But first she wanted some time for herself.

So now the stage is set for us by John.  Now we are ready for the weeping that is to come.  And it is weeping…not mere crying.

What’s the difference?  You can cry tears of joy or pain.  You can cry when you tell someone goodbye because you won’t see them for a long time.  You cry when your beloved child graduates from high school, college, or even kindergarten.  You cry when the pollen count reaches the levels here in Houston that it is currently reaching.  That’s crying.

Weeping is mourning, wailing, being unable to control yourself and not really caring.  Weeping is full of very strong emotion that overwhelms the individual who is weeping.

  • Peter wept.
  • Judas wept.
  • John and Mary, the mother of Jesus wept at the cross.
  • The other Apostles wept and did so without consolation.
  • And Mary Magdalene wept at the tomb…not because Jesus was dead, as was her original plan, but because now his body was missing!

John tells us that Mary Magdalene was weeping and looking around for the body of Jesus.  She was almost hysterical…or maybe she was hysterical!  (Could you blame her?)  But she was so upset that she didn’t even look around to see who she was talking to; she just assumed it was the gardener.  It took Jesus saying Mary’s name before she really heard him, before the realization of her most incredible dream became a reality, before her weeping was finished.  It took Jesus revealing himself to Mary Magdalene before her mourning was truly done.

And that, my friends, is one of the greatest points of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter morning: the time for mourning was done because Jesus was alive!  

It was time to be finished with weeping!

Before his crucifixion, during the three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry, there was also a lot of weeping:

  • When Lazarus died, both of his sisters confronted Jesus in their mourning, weeping, and grief – even Jesus wept.
  • When the synagogue leader’s little girl died and her body was taken to be buried, the family and even the townspeople were weeping…until Jesus took her hand and she became alive again.
  • When the widow was weeping over her dead only son, Jesus raised him, and all weeping was finished that day.
  • When Jesus reached the end of his triumphant ride on Palm Sunday, do you remember that he wept over the mothers of Jerusalem?  He knew they would lose many of their loved ones.
  • Jesus even told his Apostles that they would “weep and mourn” but that it would be turned into joy.  There is much evidence in Scripture to reveal that the Apostles didn’t listen to him or didn’t believe his words.
  • When Jesus welcomed the so-called “tax collectors and sinners” to eat with him, do you think any of them ever forgot it?  Do you think they cried tears of affection and tenderness in the years to come when they thought of Jesus and his graciousness and acceptance of them?  Do you think they wept loudly when they first heard of his crucifixion?

But with all this weeping, is there anywhere in which it stopped?  How about these:

  • When Jesus healed the ten lepers, did any of them ever weep again?  
  • When Jesus restored sight to the blind, did those formerly blind eyes ever weep with mourning again?
  • When the lame could walk, when the demons were cast out of the people, when the sick were cured, when the deaf could hear…do you think any of them every wept again?
  • And when the woman who had bled for 12 years, who had spent all she had trying to get cured, the same woman who was called for by Jesus and told that “your faith has healed you”…do you think she had any more cause to weep? 

I say NO to all these questions.  I think that after Jesus got done with all these people, they were all finished with weeping.

And what about us?  Are we also finished with weeping?

Perhaps not.

If you weep for the millions of Ukrainians who had to leave their country in the face of a brutal, senseless invasion, I’m not sure we should be done with that weeping!

But that doesn’t mean all is lost!

If you weep for the hungry, the homeless, the desperately poor in our own community, I’m not sure we should be done with that weeping either.

But that doesn’t mean all is lost!

If you watch the first ten minutes of any news broadcast on any channel, and it makes your heart ache, your eyes leak, your head force itself to think of something else, I’m not sure we should be done with that weeping either.

But again…that doesn’t mean all is lost!

To mourn for others is not a bad thing.  It is not a weak thing either.  But to sink down in the mud and give up and call for the Lord to come and end it all quickly and cry and cry and cry…and all without even lifting a finger or spending a dollar of your own to help with any problem…

I think your weeping might be wasted.

With the risen Lord, we now have hope.

With the empty tomb, we know how the story ultimately ends.

With the astonished apostles, we understand that he was alive…somehow…some way…but he was alive again.

With the women who encountered him first, we see our duty is what theirs was – to go and tell the world.

So, let’s be done with weeping.

And let’s tell the world