Did you know that the shortest verse in the Bible contains only two words? It is found in The Gospel of John 11:35. “Jesus wept.” Concise. Touching. Insightful. Comforting. Deep. I use the word “deep” because it is theologically rich. It gives us insight into the heart of God, the comfort of a Savior, and the empathy of our Lord. It tells us that he understands, he has been where we are, and he knows exactly how to comfort us.
If you are not familiar with the story, allow me to give you the nutshell version. Jesus was very close to Lazarus, his sisters Mary and Martha, and the rest of their family. Most likely, they funded much of Jesus’ public ministry through financial contributions and providing food and shelter for Jesus when he needed them. Word was sent to Jesus that Lazarus was near death. Jesus continued ministering, purposely delaying so that God would get the glory. That is just like Jesus, isn’t it? Delaying for our good and God’s glory. Operating in a way that we sometimes question, but when we trust him, it always turns out for our good.
Four days later Jesus finally shows up. Lazarus is dead and buried. Everyone thought that Jesus was insensitive and uncaring. After all, you always respond quickly to your biggest donor. Then Jesus does the unthinkable. He tells them to remove the stone covering the grave where Lazarus was buried. He was told, with a mildly sarcastic and rebuking tone, that was not a good idea. If he had not delayed in Lazarus’ time of need he could have seen his friend. He might even have saved him. But Jesus tells them to do it anyway.
Then he wept. Weeping is not a single tear or a mild, suppressed cry. It is open, raw emotion. It is a rending of the soul. It is open, flowing tears of grief and remorse.
Then he raised Lazarus from the dead. A man wrapped like a mummy, lying in a cold grave, dead as a doorknob, came back to life. It was a miracle. But if Jesus knew – and he did – that he would raise Lazarus back to life, then why did he weep? Why was he not smug? Why did he not just smile, like he knew something everyone else did not? I think this is where we learn so much from two simple words. Jesus wept.
Jesus wept because he was human. He had real human emotions. He felt pain, sorrow, and grief. He knew what it was like to feel alone, abandoned, and abused. He experienced loss and the deep emotions associated with it. He knows how it feels to lose a friend. He knows how empty it feels when someone close to you dies. His humanity empowers him to relate to us, comfort us, and be with us.
He wept because he was human. He gave life to the dead because he is God! As God, he knew that Lazarus would not stay dead. He would be resurrected! Jesus knows how to comfort us because he has experienced the pain, but he also knows that one day we will be resurrected. Believers will be reunited in heaven. Death is temporary at best! It will be over soon because Jesus defeated sin on the cross. Because he conquered sin he also crushed the wage of sin – death. He overcomes! He brings dead things to life!
There is no pain that you can have that Jesus has not experienced. That is why he understands and can bring comfort to you. He knows. He feels. He experiences what you experience. No matter what pain, sorrow, or loss you experience, he can comfort you because he has felt it too. Because he became human, he understands. Because he is God, he will take you through it.
Hebrews 4:15-16 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (NLT)