Here’s a question for quizzers. Which is the shortest verse in the Bible? The answer is in John’s gospel, chapter 11, verse 35, and it’s only two words, “Jesus wept”.
There are lots of fascinating quiz questions you can have from the Bible like, who had a talking donkey (Balaam), or who was so fat that when he was killed the sword handle went into him as well as the blade (Eglon, king of Moab). Providing quiz questions isn’t the purpose of the Bible though. It’s ultimate purpose is to lead us to Jesus Christ. Both Old and New Testaments point to him as the answer to sin, the Saviour and the Son of God. The Bible can also help us to understand the world around us, the difficulties we face and how to cope with them. To do that we have to look at everything in context and not just pick out two words that make a good quiz question. Why did Jesus weep?
In a time when Jesus had many enemies conspiring to kill him there was a family who loved him, and to whom he seemed particularly attached. There were two sisters Martha and Mary, and their brother Lazarus. They lived in Bethany, a village on the road to Jerusalem. It was a home that Jesus visited on more than one occasion. While he was in another part of Israel (the region of Galilee) word came to him that Lazarus had died. The two sisters, in their grief, must have talked about Jesus because, when he came to see them, they saw him separately and said exactly the same thing, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (1) They showed incredible faith in Jesus and, within their understanding, knew that He could have made Lazarus well, but he wasn’t around to do anything, so it was too late.
It wasn’t too late though. The Jesus they loved, and had faith in, could do more than they ever thought possible. He is the creator of all life and and he brought Lazarus back to life just by speaking into the tomb where he had been placed and lain for four days. He spoke, “Lazarus, come out!” (2) and in response to that command Lazarus rose and walked out of the tomb. He must have looked a site, as he had burial cloths of linen around his hands and feet and another cloth over his face. Scary, but alive and returned to his family.
Before this happened Jesus had looked at Mary in her despair, and those who were with her, and it’s at this point that he openly cried, sharing in their grief. Jesus wept. It was so powerful that people watching said about Jesus and Lazarus, “See how he loved him. (3)
The most wonderful point of this story is that Jesus loves us. He grieves over us if we are still lost in sin. He knows it needn’t happen, because he died for us to remove that burden of sin. Why do we still reject someone who loves us that much?
He also feels our pain, and those who come to him in faith know that he passes through it with us. He has experienced so much pain himself that he is able to understand and empathise with our pain. If we look to him for help he can bring the most wonderful comfort and peace, even in the most troubling times.
(1) John 11:21,32
(2) John 11:43
(3) John 11:36