Jesus cried twice in the weeks leading to the cross. The first when He stood with Martha and Mary at their brother Lazarus’ new grave over the hill from Jerusalem.
We’re told simply, “Jesus wept.” We’re silent witnesses to this very private moment for Jesus. This word “wept,” dakruo, describes the quiet grief that streams down your face. The more common word for weeping is klaio, “a loud wail.” John 11:33 says that Mary klaio, “wailed,” as she stood there beside Jesus.
Jesus also cried Palm Sunday, the first day of Passover week. On this day, people chose their sacrificial lambs. Fittingly, Jesus made a very grand entrance into Jerusalem on this day in a way that fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. But this time His tears weren’t quiet at all. He klaio.
He wept the full ride down the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley and into the city through the Sheep Gate. The tassels on His prayer shawl drug the ground and were stained with the blood that drained from the countless lamb sacrifices offered high above on the Temple altar. The wind carried the scent of burning flesh mingled with the cries for a political Messiah—but not a personal Savior.
People searched for salvation everywhere except where they could find it. That’s why Jesus cried. He wept at their loud “Hosannas” because they missed the point. They shouted, “Save us, O LORD! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!,” echoing Psalm 118:25-26, promising political freedom from the Messiah.
The Pharisees got it. They demanded Jesus to stop the people blessing Him as a king. He answered, “If they were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Jesus will be praised.
But the people wanted a king, not a Savior. The next few days would settle it. On Friday the city would slam the door on Jesus’s offer of salvation.
If only you believe what I say, Jesus wept. Perhaps the reality of their rejection and all it would mean to Israel’s future sunk in. Within one generation, Jerusalem would lay in rubble, obliterated. On that day, Jesus set the plan in motion as He gave His enemies the upper hand.
In the moment you’d think He would cry for Himself, Jesus weeps for all the sheep He wants to save—yet who run from His rescue. He is the Way Home they will not take. The truth they will not believe. The Life they will not accept.
The thought of it makes Him openly sob.