Did Jesus Cry Bunny Tears?

When I was 17 years old, I landed a job as the Easter Bunny at the mall in my hometown of Grand Island. It was a six week gig that a friend and I shared. One of of us would be in the bunny suit and the other would be the bunny’s helper. It was honestly one of the most fun jobs I’ve had despite the 400 degree heat in the suit and the water/fresh air breaks that were needed every hour. At that age, I didn’t grasp just how iconic the Easter Bunny was to the kids that would come to visit. I loved all the hugs that I would get, and the kids that were so excited to see me that they could barely stand still were simply adorable. They would draw me pictures, and I couldn’t get over how many would say, “I love you, Easter Bunny!” But I still don’t think I understood that to some of those kids I was magical – the most tangible holiday character next to Santa Claus. It wasn’t really me, but in that suit, I felt magical. 

My parents visiting me as the Easter Bunny, 1992

One day, a little boy about 6 or 7 years old came in. I can tell you now that I’m pretty sure he was being awful for his mother that day and that she probably told him that if he didn’t straighten up, the Easter Bunny would not bring him any candy. When he finally got to the front of the line to see me, he walked up timidly and took my hand. He looked up into my big fake bunny eyes and said he was sorry. Now I was under strict instructions from my employer not to ever talk in the bunny suit. Because it was played by different people, there was never a voice to the bunny; that’s why the bunny had a helper for communication. My helper was busy at the time, so I just lifted my hands up as if to ask why? Why was he sorry? He opened his mouth again and what started quietly and slowly just built up speed and volume as he went on. He was sorry for not listening to his mother and hurting his sister and pushing a boy at school and not cleaning his room and getting mad at his dad and breaking his friend’s toy and tearing a hole in his new jeans and so on and so on and so on. By the time he finally paused to take a breath, I couldn’t take it anymore. I took his hand and pulled him into an Easter Bunny hug. I could feel the worry of his tiny little body escape as we hugged. That was just the forgiveness he needed for the list of little boy sins he carried on his heart. And as he clung to my furry suit, I started to cry. That was magical. My magic Easter Bunny suit made this boy’s day better. I had no way to reach inside the enormous bunny head so my tears just slid slowly down my cheeks even after he had taken his token coloring book and skipped back to his mother’s arms. Despite my young age, I knew that he would go right back to making the same poor choices that little boys sometimes do just hours later. But I remember the longing I felt to take away all his pain, and it brought tears to my eyes. I cried my bunny tears that afternoon. 

But I remember the longing I felt to take away all his pain, and it brought tears to my eyes.

There are several accounts of what we celebrate as Palm Sunday in the Bible. The one I like the best comes from Luke 19:28-44. I love verse 40 that reads “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out,” but I think that may be for a different blog topic. Right after that, verse 41 tells us “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.” This is taking place as Jesus is coming into Jerusalem as a king – he has performed his miracles and has so many followers. He sits here overlooking the city with throngs of people laying their clothes on the ground to cover his path and waving branches shouting, “Hosanna to the King!” He is a rock star, and what does he do? He cries. He wept over the city. He wept for the city. He wept for the throngs of people that would soon lose a leader and truly have their faith tested. He wept for the sins they would return to after he had gone on to heaven. He wept for the pain they would feel at his death and the awe they would feel at his resurrection. He wept for the persecution they would face for being followers. He wept for those who did not believe. He wept for the destruction they would face in coming years. He wept for each and every person there, which was so many more than the normal population of Jerusalem since it was almost the Passover. But mostly, I think he felt a longing to take away all their pain – and it brought tears to his earthly eyes. 

But mostly, I think he felt a longing to take away all their pain – and it brought tears to his earthly eyes.

I love Easter Egg Hunts. I’m currently working on one for our Northwest campus. They are simple events that usually go by quickly and may not be a highlight of the Easter season. Many families attend several of them. And some people would argue that they take away from the focus of Easter. But for me, I love seeing the Easter Bunny character because it takes me back to that little boy thirty-some years ago. It reminds me how our heavenly father wept for each of us. He loved us so much that he sent his son to die on the cross for our sins. I don’t know anyone who stepped into a bunny suit that doesn’t have a story like mine, a story of a child who touched their heart. And many of them have cried those bunny tears. I look now at my kids and grandkids and am awestruck by the loving sacrifice our father made for us. He’s never worn a bunny suit, but he has cried those bunny tears for each one of us. 

Weeping for the city, 

Dina Newsom