What makes you weep? As most of you are aware, I cry pretty easily, mostly at happy things. I cried when Jen walked down the aisle at our wedding, I cry at happy endings to movies, and I cry when I see or hear of people impacted by Jesus.
In the book of Nehemiah we see him break down and weep just four verses into the story. Why? Because he has just heard a report that his fellows Jews have returned to Jerusalem from the exile, but are in great trouble and full of disgrace. The proud and mighty walls that once surrounded Jerusalem have been broken down and the gates set afire.
Therefore, Nehemiah begins to weep out of his great love for his fellow Jews. Their pain is his pain. Their disgrace is his disgrace. But he does not stop there, instead he places his life at risk to plea before the king to go back and help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Once approved, he rallies the Jews to help rebuild the walls, fends off enemy attacks, and rededicates the people to their God.
Several hundred years later, Jesus would also weep over the state of Jerusalem. We see in Luke 19:41-44 that he weeps over the future desolation of the city. But we also see in Matthew 23:37-39 that Jesus wept over the spiritual state of Jerusalem. The Jews there did not recognize the Messiah, and therefore were lost, though they thought they were saved.
Yet, over the next seven days he would endure scorn and shame, be beaten, and would ultimately die on the cross in order to atone for the sins of his enemies. Just like Nehemiah, Jesus’ weeping and his love for others, including those who would reject him, motivated him to actions of deliverance.
As we read through the book of Nehemiah this month, my challenge to all of us is to ask ourselves if the same is true of us? First, do the hardships of believers and the lostness of unbelievers cause us to weep? Do we love others in such a way that the compassion of Jesus moves in us when we hear of the physical or spiritual misfortune of others?
Secondly, do our hearts break to the point where we are moved to actions of love? Do we aim to meet the needs of others in our church even when they may not be a part of our small group or inner circle of friends? Does the lostness of our neighbors and friends move us to sharing the gospel with them?
As we read through Nehemiah this month, my prayer is that the Lord would re-stir in us a great love for those in need, physically or spiritually. And that great love would move us to action, to meet these needs and to be people who share the good news of Jesus.