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Spurgeon on Weeping

I wonder if all the weeping in the last few days at Gibson’s The Passion of Christ has had eschatological considerations as per the instructions of Jesus when He met the daughters of Jerusalem weeping for Him (Luke 23:26-31)? I’m developing thoughts on this text. Anyway, here’s a message by Spurgeon on another aspect of that weeping that I think is good.

“Wherefore Should I weep?”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me” (Luke 23:28).

Having said this much, we now add that on our Lord’s part such sorrow was fitly repressed; because after all, though naturally good, it is not more than natural, and falls short of spiritual excellence. It is no proof of the work of the Spirit upon your heart that you weep as you hear the story of Christ’s death, for probably you would have been even more affected had you seen a murderer hanged. It is no proof that you are truly saved, because you are moved to great emotions whenever you hear the details of the Crucifixion, for the Bulgarian atrocities excited you equally as much.

I think it good that you should be moved, as I have said before, but it is only naturally and not spiritually good.[…]

Doubtless there are many who have shed more tears over the silly story of a love-sick maid in a frivolous novel than they have ever given to the story of the Lover of our souls; though they have felt emotion when they have pictured the sufferings of Emmanuel, they have felt even more when the bewitching pen of fiction has sketched some imaginary picture of fancied woes. No, no, these natural sympathies are not so to be commended that we wish you to be continually exercised with them: our Lord did well to set them healthy bounds. Besides such feeling is generally very evanescent. Tears of mere emotion because of the external sufferings of Christ are speedily wiped away and forgotten. We do not know that any of these women ever became our Lord’s converts. Amongst those who met in the upper room, we do not know that any had taken part with this company of weepers; these were women of Jerusalem, and the followers of Christ at his death, who ministered unto him, were generally women from Galilee. For this see Matthew 27:54 and 56. I fear that the most of these Jerusalem sympathizers forgot to-morrow that they had wept to-day. I may be mistaken, but there is nothing in the mere fact of their lamenting the Savior’s doom which would prove them to be his regenerated followers. The morning cloud and the early dew are fit emblems of such fleeting, emotions. Such weeping too is morally powerless; it has no effect upon the mind; it does not change the character, it does not cause the putting away of sin, nor create real and saving faith in Jesus Christ. Many tears are shed under powerful sermons that are so much wasted fluid; the discourse is over, the sorrow has ceased. There was no work of grace upon the inner heart, it was all surface work and no more. The worst of it is such feeling is often deceptive, for people are apt to think, “I must have something good in me, for what a time of weeping I had under the sermon, and how tender I felt when I heard the description of Christ upon the cross!” Yes, and thus thou mayest wrap thyself up in the belief that thou art under the influence of the Holy Spirit when, after all, it is only ordinary human feeling. Thou mayest conclude, “Surely these drops down from a heart of flesh,” when it may be only moisture condensed upon a heart of stone.

This feeling, too, may stand in the way of something a great deal better. Jesus would not have these women weep for one thing, because they were to weep for another thing which far more seriously demanded their weeping. Ye need not weep because Christ died one-tenth so much as because your sins rendered it necessary that he should die. You need not weep over the crucifixion, but weep over your transgression, for your sins nailed the Redeemer to the accursed tree.

To weep over a dying Savior is to lament the remedy; it were wiser to bewail the disease. To weep over the dying Savior is to wet the surgeon’s knife with tears; it were better to bewail that spreading polypus which that knife must cut away. To weep over the Lord Jesus as he goes to the cross is to weep over that which is the subject of the highest joy that ever heaven and earth have known; your tears are scarcely needed there; they are natural, but a deeper wisdom will make you brush them all away, and chant with joy his victory over death and the grave. If we must continue our sad emotions let us lament that we should have broken the law which he thus painfully vindicated, let us mourn that we should have incurred the penalty which he even to the death was made to endure. Jesus wished them not so much to look at his outward sufferings as at the secret inward cause of that outward sorrow, namely, the transgression and the iniquity of his people, which had laid the cross upon his shoulders and surrounded him with enemies.

As I quoted just now certain verses which led us to lament our Lord, let me propose to you as better still those words of Watts —

“‘Twas you, my sins, my cruel sins,
His chief tormentors were;
Each of my crimes became a nail,
And unbelief the spear.
“‘Twas you that pull’d the vengeance down
Upon his guiltless head:
Break, break, my heart, oh burst mine eyes!
And let my sorrows bleed.
“‘Strike, mighty grace, my flinty soul,
Till melting waters flow,
And deep repentance drown mine eyes
In undissembled woe.”

Yea, deeper still was this meaning, for all those about him were in a sense guilty of his death; and you, and I, and all the rest of mankind have been, in our measure, the cause of the Savior’s crucifixion. Oh, brethren and sisters this is the reason why we should weep, because we have broken the divine law, and rendered it impossible that we should be saved except Jesus Christ should die.


3 Responses

  1. Thank you. I have to say Amen.

    The passage I was reminded of in light of an ungodly focus on the torture of the Lord
    was John 16:20-22:

    20 “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.
    21 “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.
    22 “Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.

  2. there is a godly sorrow that worketh repentance, and a sorrow of the world that is only death.

    i was deeply impressed by the thought of where my sorrow ought to be directed when i think of the cross. thanks for sharing.

  3. Redirection

    Check out Pastor Bixby’s latest post quoting Spurgeon. A teaser: “To weep over a dying Savior is to lament the…

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