You'd think after 67 years there'd be no more revelations from the Bible. I mean, I've read it so often and written about it so frequently that its dark corners would be gone and there could be no more news. The bible is a tome, and it takes years to get through; but we've done it more than once, in more than one version; so when I stumble on something I didn't think I knew in a big story, I'm just shocked.
For instance, I don't know why, but it came as news yesterday that Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
I know the Lazarus story. The line is a giveaway in a dozen Bible games. You know, "what the shortest verse in the Bible?" Well, duh.
But yesterday, in a Palm Sunday sermon, I saw those eyes fill with tears for what seemed the first time, real salty tears amid a ten thousand beloved palm fronds.
Why? For himself maybe. Time was running out, Holy Week was upon him. The clock--a peculiarly earthly thing--was ticking. When he heard the crowd, he probably couldn't help thinking that the divine Him had been a miserable failure. He'd pulled dozens of tricks, done some eye-popping sleight of hand, accomplished more than a few jaw-dropping miracles--water into wine, his first, was little more than a cartoon when compared to sight-to-the-blind and death-to-life. Five loaves, two fishes--that was just sweet, even though it filled more bellies than souls. He'd done it all, really, but he'd failed. Those tears had cause.
And we didn't get it. It wouldn't have made a difference if he'd come right out and said it either because earthlings weren't going to understand that while he was one of them, at the very same time he wasn't. He was as human as any, but totally divine. Not half-human and half-divine, some grotesque mix, not either/or but both/and. And what's really hard to swallow--impossible--is that coming soon to a hill near you would be a hideous, painful death as damnable as any, but all of it only prelude to a once-in-a-lifetime Sunday dawn. He cried because we're all failures--him and us too. We didn't get it. Not only that, but it's still a mystery, still befuddling, still a humanly-impossible stretch. You got to believe, but Lord knows it ain't easy. Nope.
And then there's this. Maybe he bawled on his way into town because he loved us even though we got it all so damned wrong. Here he was, front and center on the biggest victory celebration Jerusalem had seen, people cheering, throwing down robes and shawls for a long-haired grown man riding--of all things!--a little braying ass. Jesus wept because he loved us, idiots all, well-meaning, stars in our eyes, but dreadfully, horribly deluded. He wept because he loved us as no earthling could or can.
What's the shortest verse in the Bible? "Jesus wept." There he was at the tomb of Lazarus, Mary and Martha already emotionally crumbled. People are supposed to cry in cemeteries. He wept. Wouldn't anyone?
But all around him just then there was nothing but adoration. If men and women and kids wouldn't have screamed their love, the stones would have and that could have been something right out of Disney and would have been. When it was over that afternoon, the people must have had trouble winding down the celebration--what a great day! what a holiday! what a reception! what a triumph for a king! Let's just go out for dinner, honey. I don't want all these good times to end. This is one for the books!
His own gang, every last one of the twelve, had to be just as cranked, riding high themselves, thrilled to be stars for a long and wonderful afternoon.
He was the only one who understood it. In the whole crowd that day, He alone was alone.
Amid the shouting, the God on the donkey was the only one in tears.