Do we mourn the death of Jesus?

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, April 15, 2023

Last week was a tension-filled week for Christians. On one hand we rejoice because Jesus died for our sins; on the other hand, we are sorrowful that He died because of our sins. In a very real sense, we can’t use the words “they,” “them,” or “the Jews” when speaking of the crucifixion of Jesus. To be totally accurate, we must claim our responsibility for Jesus’ death on the cross.

The hymn “Were You There” will absolutely cause you to “tremble” if you change the “they” to “we,” or better yet, “I,” as you sing it. It causes us to actually “look on Him whom we have pierced.”

“And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced’” — John 19:37 (NKJV).

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John is quoting from Zechariah 12:10, and in this case is speaking of Jesus on the cross after the soldier had thrust the sword into His side to verify that He was indeed dead. There is another application that the original passage intends, one that is still valid today some 2000 years after Jesus was crucified. Zechariah writes, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced.”

When we become as others who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior, our attitude toward Him changes completely. We are first of all made conscious of our own sinfulness and need of a Savior and begin to realize that Jesus not only died for us but He died because of us. It was our sin, my sin, that made His death necessary. At that moment we begin to look on Him as One whom we, have pierced by our sinful behavior.

This causes us to experience a tension in our Christian walk — on one hand we are elated that Jesus would die for our sins; on the other we are saddened by our own complicity in His death. It is with this in mind that Zechariah finishes the verse, “Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”

Are we among those who mourn over Jesus’ death? Or are we of those over whom Jesus weeps?

Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired pastor.