The Shortest Verse

All this week I’ve been intrigued by the shortest verse in the Bible. It’s just two words – “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

Let me begin with a quick note to my brothers and sisters in the faith. I cannot tell you how valuable it has been for me to recall various passages from Scripture at different times as I’m learning to cope over these past few weeks. Please take a few seconds to memorize this verse. If you’re not good at memorizing Scripture, or you just don’t know where to start, this is a pretty easy one. There are only two words, and the meaning is extremely clear. Jesus wept.

So let’s consider him weeping. The rub of-course is that when we meet a man today, especially one whom we consider to be particularly masculine, we would never expect him to weep. It makes us uncomfortable to see a grown man weeping, whatever the reason. Regardless how deep his pain, or how difficult his experiences or situation may be, there’s no excuse to see him weeping. At least, that’s what our world would have us believe.

So what about Jesus? The Bible teaches in John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 that Jesus, the Son of God, was the person of the Trinity that actually spoke creation into existence. If you’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia, I think C. S. Lewis did a fabulous job of describing this in the first book in that series, The Magicians Nephew, although it pales in comparison to the creation account in Scripture…provided you let the words mean what they say. He created everything for Himself, and it’s by Him that all things are held together….He sustains everything. Our hopes, dreams, aspirations, relationships, professions, educations, families, churches…all for Him.

Jesus is described physically in Isaiah 53, saying that He would have “no appearance that we should be attracted to Him” and that He would be a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” His appearance changes at the time of His second coming, described in Revelation 1. At that time His glory shall be fully revealed, but in the mean time, the time in which we inhabit today, this little verse in the Gospel of John helps to reveal His heart.

Jesus wept because He saw the pain that His friends were experiencing. He saw Mary, paused long enough to listen to her and shared in her grief even though He knew full well that He was on His way to alleviate the very source of her grief. His heart hurt because her heart hurt and as a result, He wept. There’s nothing unmanly about that. He demonstrated how we are to respond as people created in His image and renewed by His blood. He shows us what it means to have the “new heart” that was promised in Ezekiel 36:26 and to let ourselves be vulnerable to the point where we can share in the grief of our fellow man. It allows us to come alongside someone in pain and tell them, I’m here for you. Whenever you need, and for as long as you need. I hurt with you and I hurt for you. I weep.

As with so many things, I thought I knew this passage before Kyleigh departed this world one month ago to the day. Now sure, I understood that Jesus wept because His friends hurt, but I didn’t know what that felt like. I do now.

I learned today of the tragic loss of another infant child. A child who lived the appointed days that were ordained for him (Ps 139:16) yet it’s too soft to say that my heart breaks for his family. I hurt. I feel it physically in my gut, as if stabbed all over again in the very spot I felt it when I knew that Kyleigh was gone. I hurt not just because it causes me to think about her yet again (as if she’s ever too far from my thoughts), but I hurt because of the grief that this child’s parents must feel at this moment. I wish I could go to them. I wish I could sit with them. I wish I could weep with them. Yet, what I cannot do in their presence, I can do in His presence and I can rest assured that He is likewise doing for them. Jesus weeps.


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