As I have been studying the Gospel of John in recent months, my attention has been captured by the great impact that little statements can have – especially if they are coming from a person of influence. Today I want to consider Three Gracious Words for the Spirit – “Why weepest thou? (John 20:15).

As we consider this statement from the lips of our Lord, we must be mindful of the context in which it was made. Jesus had been betrayed and crucified. Mary had watched as He suffered and died upon a cruel Roman cross. For three nights, she had mourned the loss of her beloved friend. Early Sunday morning, she arrived at the tomb as the day began to break. Seeing the stone rolled away, she ran to tell the disciples the news that Jesus was missing from the tomb. After they returned to the tomb with her and verified her story, they returned to their homes. But Mary tarried outside the tomb weeping. When she looked into the sepulcher, she saw two angels where the body of Jesus had laid. Back outside the tomb, she saw the Lord Himself but thought He was the gardener. Our tears can often blind us to the truth. Jesus said unto her, “Why weepest thou?” These three gracious words remind us of some wonderful truths.

First, they speak to us about the Concern of the Savior. He cares about His own. He is interested in every aspect of our lives. There is nothing too great for His ability to manage, and there is nothing too small for His attention to consider. Truly the hymn writer John Scriven had it right when he wrote, “What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!”

Second, these three words remind us about the Compassion of the Savior. “Why weepest thou?” As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:14). I love the words of that old hymn entitled “The Great Physician.” The opening verse says,

The Great Physician now is near,

The sympathizing Jesus;

He speaks the drooping heart to cheer,

Oh, hear the voice of Jesus.

While concern is great, it does not rise to the same level as compassion. To be concerned indicates a level of interest, while having compassion reveals a willingness to get involved. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest had only contempt for the wounded man, for the priest passed by on the other side. The Levite had some measure of concern, for he came and looked on him. But only the Samaritan had compassion for he alone was willing to involve himself in the life of the man who fell among thieves. Jesus has concern, but more importantly, He has compassion upon men.

Third, these words remind us of the Comfort of the Savior. While others may be concerned or even have compassion, only Christ can truly comfort the troubled heart. Paul describes our Lord as, “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). In His ministry of comfort, the Lord will work through varying methods to give comfort. He will use His Word to bring comfort. He will work through the Holy Spirit, whose title is “the Comforter” (John 14:16, 26). God will also work through other saints to comfort the one in need. As Paul explained it to the church at Corinth, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Gracious words of compassion from the lips of a loving Savior who longs to comfort troubled souls.

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Craig Burcham, GSBC Faculty

Bro. Burcham served as the Chairman of the Bible Department at Golden State Baptist College before answering the call to pastor the Mountain Vista Baptist Church in Sierra Vista, AZ. Pastor Burcham travels each week to teach the next generation at GSBC. Before coming to GSBC, he served as a missionary with his family in Japan for several years and then pastored in Missouri.