When God the Father Wept

23 Sep 2015
When God the Father Wept

Almighty God: all-knowing, all-powerful and eternal. He spoke the world and everything in it into existence. But can you picture God weeping? We know that Jesus wept. But did God the Father? We can’t say with certainty but there are indications that make me believe He did. 

If we are emotionally affected by the sufferings of people close to us, how did God the Father—the Creator of our emotions—feel when His Son was crucified?

Jesus—His lifeblood pouring out—hanging almost naked on the cross. His cry of rejection, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, echoed through the universe (Matthew 27:46).

How did these words impact the Father? Was He unmoved? Was He cold, indifferent, distant and unaffected by the suffering of His Son as some perceive God to be about human suffering today?

Could the God who asked, “Can a mother forget her sucking child and have no compassion?” (Isaiah 49:15), be unaffected by His own Son's suffering? Did the God who was “afflicted in all the afflictions” of His redeemed people (Isaiah 63:9), remain unaffected as His own Son died? 

Yes, He was afflicted. He was affected—deeply affected.

God the Father was there in the shadow of the cross. He saw everything. Ellen White says, when the darkness covered the earth, the Father descended, “God and his holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed.”1 He felt it when He saw the soldier thrust the spear into His Son’s side. While the Son cried out at the pain of His Father’s rejection, did the Father sob at the pain of separation? At the cross, while legions of demons celebrated the defeat of their enemy, was the Father in tears? As the religious leaders and the bloodthirsty crowd cried in delight, did the Father cry in anguish?

In my mind’s eye I do see Him weeping—as Jesus engaged in battle with the devil’s legions in the garden of Gethsemane and sweated blood; when He was rejected and condemned to death; when He was engulfed in darkness; when He cried out at His feeling of rejection by His Father. Jeremiah cried, oh that “my eyes [were] a fountain of tears. I would weep day and night for the slain of my people” (Jeremiah 9:1). The fountain of tears in God’s eyes may well have burst forth and flowed freely. The fountain of divine compassion was broken at the loss of His only begotten Son.

In this tense and emotional moment He had the power to respond to the Son’s cry for help. In an instant He could have displayed His power and wiped out all the enemies of good. But this might have short-circuited the plan of salvation. Instead the mighty God of the universe was grieved. Grief is a sign of helplessness. He chose to grieve—and maybe even weep—rather than use His power and lose His children forever.

To end the pain and weeping that sin had brought, God allowed His Son to die on the cross. Christ’s death paid the penalty—His resurrection destroyed the power of sin forever. In the new Eden, restored through the cross, there will be an atmosphere free from pain and weeping. We will never weep again.

In our pain, in our rejection, in our own weeping, when the Father seems silent—like He doesn’t care—we must be reminded that He was grieved in the deepest form possible and maybe, just maybe, He wept. He feels our afflictions with us and He's right beside us, even when we weep. He suffered to allow the drama of salvation to proceed to its climax, which will result in a better future, a better life and a better experience—where weeping will be a thing of the past (see Revelation 21:4).

1. Ellen G White, The Desire of the Ages, 754.

Simon Davidson lectures in the School of Theology at Sonoma College, Papua New Guinea.