By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus
When I was a child my father would quiz me with the trivia question, “what’s the shortest verse in the Bible?” The answer was simple and I always got it right, but he would continue to ask the question from time to time. I don’t remember how often, or how many times, but enough that I remember it being repetitive. (Read to the end of this article to find out the shortest verse in the Bible.)
As an adult I have often wondered why he so often asked me that question. I lost my father when I was only 21, so I’ve never been able to ask him. My father’s birthday was June 9th, so at this time of year I am thinking about him, missing him, and remembering little things.
Maybe there was a reason he liked that bit of trivia, “what is the shortest verse in the Bible?” The answer of course is, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Perhaps it was his way of telling me that Jesus understood the pain of losing a loved one…and it’s OK to cry. Maybe the verse was special to him because it comforted him at a time of grief. I don’t know. But I do know that we all weep, and grieve. And, when I think of that verse, it causes me to remember that our Lord experienced the same depths of sorrow and sadness that we do, and that He comforts us in our trials and tribulations.
Scripture records three times when Jesus wept.
First, in the John 11 passage, Jesus wept when He heard of the death of His friend Lazarus. Of course Jesus knew that He could, and would, raise Lazarus back to life, but He also knew of the pain and suffering that death brings to those who lose a loved one. Death is a consequence of sin, and will always be a reminder that things on this earth are not as God intended them to be. God gave Adam and Eve His perfect love, but they succumbed to their own lusts and sin and death entered into the world. We weep when a loved one dies and Jesus wept (John 11:35) when Lazarus died…and the next verse tells exclaims, “Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” (John 11:36)
Jesus loved His friend and He wept over sin and death.
The second record or Jesus weeping is found In Luke 19:41 when Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
God had given Adam and Eve a perfect Garden and perfect communion with Him. When they sinned they lost everything. But God in His mercy and grace began preparing a way to rescue mankind. He raised up a people and gave them a land that would be their own. In that Promised Land was God’s city, Jerusalem, the city of peace.
God first gave His people a garden and next He gave them a city—a place to dwell, a city on a hill, shining as a light in the land of Israel. And yet, in their disobedience they failed to keep it holy and set apart for God’s plan and purpose. In Luke 19:41 Jesus looked out upon God’s city, and, just as in times past, Jerusalem was now a city controlled by a pagan world power.
Jesus loved Jerusalem and He wept over the city.
The third record of Jesus weeping is found in a garden. Some will debate whether He wept tears from His eyes, but there certainly was a deep grief accompanied by a type of weeping.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to His Father, knowing what was soon to take place. He was in extreme anguish and we read in the Gospel of Luke:
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)
His body now “wept” with “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood.”
Perhaps these were “tears” from the essence of His being. And most likely these “tears” were accompanied by tears flowing from His eyes. Jesus loved His friend, Lazarus, and He loved His city, Jerusalem. And now, Jesus’ love for His Father is most gloriously revealed in His surrender to fulfill His Father’s plan and purpose — first in the garden and then upon the cross.
No Greater Love
It was the love of the Father for His creation that sent Jesus to live among us (John 3:16). It is the love of the Father for us that we are made alive in Christ through His life, death and resurrection (1 Cor 15:20-22).
We are the ones who should have hung on that cross. Jesus was the only One who could take upon Himself our sin and pay the penalty for it and secure forgiveness and eternal life for us. He lived the life we could not live, and He died the death that we should die. And in His life, Jesus experienced all the pain and suffering that we know. Therefore, when we weep, we can find a refuge in Him, we can find strength in Him and we can know that He is our very present help in all our troubles (Psalm 46:1).
“Written at the Foot of a Crucifix” by Victor Hugo
In 1847, Victor Hugo (1802-1885, author of the novel Les Miserables) wrote a short poem following the death of his beloved daughter:
You who weep, come to this God, for he weeps.
You who suffer, come to him, for he cures.
You who tremble, come to him, for he smiles.
You who pass [in death], come to him, for he remains.
As I think about my father at this time of year, I wish I could have known him longer and spent more time with him during my adult years. It would have been fun to share a bit of trivia of my own with him. I know he would have enjoyed it, but since he is not here (he has been in Heaven for many years now), I’ll share this trivia with you.
John 11:35, “Jesus wept,” is most certainly the shortest verse in the English translation of the Bible! However, in the original language of Greek, John 11:35 is not the shortest verse. In a Greek Bible the shortest verse is 1 Thessalonians 5:16. In English that verse is translated: Rejoice evermore.
Let’s link those two verses together. When we weep over the things that Jesus wept over—sin and death—we can remember that Jesus conquered both…and that we too are victorious in Him. Then we can Rejoice evermore.
My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
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