I could shout it out when the teacher asked, “Shortest verse in the Bible?”
“John 11:35 … Jesus wept.”
You may know the context of why John records Jesus weeping. It’s the account of when Jesus’ good friend Lazarus had died. When Jesus comes to Lazarus’s sisters (Mary and Martha) to be with them, to share their grief, to comfort them, he himself is overcome with grief and John merely writes:
But then John continues by noting that some of the Jews seeing Jesus cry remark, “See how he loved him.” As you read on, though, it makes you wonder if they were merely being cynical. The very next verse (John 11:37) reads:
“But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’”
Wow. Those who doubted Jesus, who constantly dogged him, who continually challenged him, would not even let the poor man properly grieve at the death of his dear friend.
There is at least one other place in the gospels where Jesus weeps. It’s when Jesus, riding upon a donkey, makes his final descent into Jerusalem just days before his crucifixion.
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:41-44)
It might be tempting to say, “I just can’t imagine what Jesus must have been feeling as he sat there weeping, knowing that his own death was just days ahead. I just can’t imagine.”
Really? You just can’t imagine? Well then let me challenge your imagination. Try to imagine what he felt. Do you think he felt, say, giddy? “No, of course not,” you say.
So I want you to close your eyes and try to imagine what Jesus was feeling as he looked over Jerusalem and wept. Imagine him sitting on the back of that donkey and just weeping and weeping, heaving with his hands over his face. Try and imagine him slowly turning his head from side to side. Do you think he felt lonely, despite many in the crowed having thrown down palm branches and shouting, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord?” Did Jesus feel despair? Resignation? Sad? Misunderstood? … What do you think?
Now, turn your imagination to thinking about your life, your family, your children, your parents, your town. What are your feelings about your own challenges? I know you have them. Everyone does. Almost everyone I talk with during the week is fighting a great battle of some sort. What might Jesus be feeling about you, about your life, about your challenges, about your future? … What do you think?
For me, it comes down to these two questions: “Is the Jesus you know still a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief… ” (Isaiah 53:3)? And if so, “What is this man of sorrow and acquainted with grief saying to you?”