The Tears of Joseph and Jesus

Verlyn Verbrugge

READ : Genesis 42:18-24

When [Jesus] drew near and saw the city, he wept over it. (Luke 19:41)

Tears are hard to interpret because any feelings of strong emotion can produce them. There are tears of anger, tears of fear, tears of grief, tears of relief, and tears of joy.

Throughout the Joseph story, we often read about Joseph’s tears, always in connection with his brothers. Was he angry at them for what they did to him so many years ago, things that changed his life? Did he shed tears of sadness because they were still arguing about what happened so many years earlier? Are they tears of joy in being able to see them again, even though he cannot yet reveal himself? We just don’t know. Maybe there are various emotional reasons.

Twice in his ministry Jesus wept. We are not sure what produced his tears at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). But in Luke 19, Jesus’ tears are clearly tears of sadness, that though he came to offer God’s people peace with him, the majority rejected him, and punishment was awaiting.

Jesus’ tears do help us understand what is going on in Genesis. When people do not repent of their sins and instead seek to blame others, they cannot experience the joy of forgiveness. Joseph wants reconciliation with his brothers, but it doesn’t truly come until Genesis 50. Jesus, however, offers you reconciliation with God—right now! Don’t put it off!


Lord Jesus, thank you for reconciling me to God through your sacrifice. I repent of my sins and ask for your forgiveness. Amen.