I have always remembered John 11:35 ESV “Jesus wept” as the shortest verse in the Bible. When I was a child, if a Sunday school teacher asked us to memorize a verse, someone would jokingly suggest that one because it was the easiest. Also, the question ‘What is the shortest verse of the Bible?’ would come up in trivia, and I always knew the answer! Recently though, this verse has given me a deeper meaning, and it has caused me to see the two words “Jesus wept” in a whole new way.
One evening last fall after the kids were tucked in bed, I was watching TV with my husband, and my phone rang. We both looked at each other because it was the time of night when no one usually calls, and we all know that feeling of dread that washes over us when this happens. I answered the phone and received the shocking news that a young family member of mine had died tragically. This type of life event usually causes us to stop our daily routines and spend time reflecting on questions that we do not normally think about. Over the next days as I drove 18 hours to the funeral and spent time grieving with my family, I struggled with this news and tried to find answers. Through it all I asked God ‘Why weren’t you there?’
In John 11, Mary and her sister Martha had lost their brother, and when Jesus arrived, they both said to him “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21 and 32 ESV). It strikes me that they asked the same question that I did. Jesus responded in a very human way. He knew God’s plan and what was about to happen, yet he was deeply moved and wept. This scene in the Bible reflects how Jesus is both God and man. He had flesh like us and therefore knew sorrow like we do, and yet he is God and we can go to him for comfort when we are grieving.
The words “Jesus wept” are no longer the answer to a trivia question to me. These two powerful words mean that when I am struggling (and we will experience tragedy on earth), that Jesus is with me and he knows grief too. Jesus is both my savior and comforter, and I am not alone.
Your sister in Christ,