The Rev. Dr. Clay Smith: What makes Jesus sad ....


Isaiah told us the Messiah (the one who would fix all the problems) would be a man of sorrows. What does that mean? It means, I think, that Jesus was and is a man who feels the pain of sadness. What makes Jesus sad?

I think it makes Jesus sad to see people hungry in the world when there is enough food to feed them. In many countries where there is starvation, food is used as a political weapon. Oppressive governments starve their opponents and feed their allies. In these United States, there is more than enough food, but there are still hungry people. Some people are hungry because they are foolish with money or life choices. I still think Jesus wants them to have a meal. Maybe I should give the equivalent of one week's grocery money to my local food pantry to make sure there is an opportunity for people to eat.

I think it makes Jesus sad to see his people fight over stuff that does not matter. Does the color of the carpet really matter? Does it really matter how you interpret Revelation? Won't we all find out what it means when Jesus actually comes back? I think Jesus meant for us to be completely put under the water when we are baptized, but if you want to be sprinkled with water instead, I should not hate you. I cannot help but wonder if Jesus does not sometimes weep over arguments that do not matter that are done in his name.

I know it makes Jesus sad when he sends messages to people, and they do not listen. He wept over Jerusalem, because he sent prophet after prophet, and people did not listen. I cannot imagine his heartbreak when he still sees people wrecking their lives because they did not heed the warnings.

I think it makes Jesus sad when people are lost and lonely. Jesus told a story about this, about a shepherd who lost one of his sheep. His sadness motivated him to leave the ninety-and-nine sheep and look for the one. Jesus talked about engaging the lonely: visiting people in prison, welcoming the foreigner, taking care of the sick. If you think about it, heaven is the place prepared for us, so we are never lonely again. Hell is a lonely place because God is not guiding people to connection.

I think it makes Jesus sad when a woman terminates her pregnancy. I know there are a lot of strong feelings about this. I know some women feel deeply the pain of losing a child, and I believe Jesus weeps with them. I know other women who feel like terminating a pregnancy solves a problem. They do not see the other problems that come later. Jesus is sad for the loss of a child and for the soul damage that is done.

I think Jesus is sad when people hate. Hate brings division, conflict, sometimes war. Jesus came to teach us to love as he loved. It hurts his heart when people spew hate, especially when they spew it in his name. I read a story just this week of a white pastor who wrote a hate letter to a Black pastor in Fort Worth. He signed it, "Cordially." I guarantee Jesus did not think the man's comments were cordial, Christian or kind. I know I would hate to have my name attached to some of the things people say and do "in Jesus' name."

I think it makes Jesus sad when people's courage fails them. His best friend, Peter, denied him three times, and we are told after the rooster crowed, Jesus looked at him. How many times have I made Jesus sad because I lacked the courage to do the right thing, the hard thing? How many times has the Spirit said to me, "Fear not," and I have replied, "No thanks, I think I'll trust my fears more than I trust you."

I know this list could go on and on. But there is an amazing promise that one day, Jesus will no longer be sad. One day, everything will settle out. One day, people will no longer make Jesus sad. One day, I will no longer make Jesus sad.

We are told that in heaven, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." What this means, of course, is there is no crying in heaven. It means not only will you stop crying, but Jesus will stop crying, too, because his children have finally come home.

The Rev. Dr. Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Bapist Church in Sumter. Email him at