CMP Review 2024-02-11

CMP Review 2024-02-11

American artist Makoto Fujimura wrote in 2012, “‘Jesus Wept’ is, to me, the most profound passage in the Bible.”

“Jesus’ tears,” he reflected, “make no logical sense, as he came to Bethany with the specific mission to raise Lazarus from the grave. He told the disciples his mission (and why he intentionally delayed his arrival, knowing that Lazarus lay dying) and revealed to Martha that he was and is the ‘Resurrection and the Life.’ So why did he, upon seeing the tears of Mary, waste his time weeping, when he could have shown his power as the Son of God by wiping away every tear, telling people like her, ‘Ye of little faith, believe in me!’?

Fujimura couldn’t help but notice that Thomas Jefferson had cut the verse from his own edition of the Bible: “Jefferson’s rationalism allowed only a distant deity that made sense in reference to objective ‘scientific’ calibrations, not ephemeral marks of compassion.” Fujimura explained.

But N. T. Wright points out that whatever logic or Jefferson might say about this verse, “there can be no doubt of its historical truth.” He observes: “Nobody in the early church, venerating Jesus and celebrating his own victory over death, would have invented such a thing.”

As an artist, Fujimura found a model for his work in this profound and historical verse. “Art, like the tears of Christ, may seem useless, ephemeral and ultimately wasteful. But even though they evaporate into our atmosphere, the extravagant tears of God dropped on the hardened, dry soils of Bethany, or onto the ashes of our Ground Zero conditions, are still present with us. Because tears are ephemeral, they can be enduring and even permanent, as with ‘Jesus wept.’ In the same way, perhaps our art can be so as well. What seems, at first, to be an irrational response to suffering may turn out, upon deep reflection, to be the most rational response of all.”

Charlotte Mason offered her own art in remembrance of Jesus’ tears. It is an emotional response, a rational response, a poetic response. Read or hear it here.