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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Big Things Come in Small Packages

When I was a kid there were a couple of occasions when my Sunday School class held a contest to see who could memorize the most verses of scripture. Invariably, each time this contest was held the first verse out of everyone’s mouth was John 11:35:

“Jesus wept.”

This is the shortest verse in the English Bible.

The power of John 11:35 is often overlooked because it is so small. When we look at it in light of the larger story, we see something truly wonderful about Jesus. The incident of Jesus weeping comes in the middle of the story of how He raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus was a good friend of Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Lazarus had fallen seriously ill and his sisters sent word to Jesus so Jesus would come and heal their brother. It is mentioned three times in John 11:1-46 that Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Even though none of these three were numbered among Jesus’s 12 disciples, the scripture speaks plainly of His love and affection for them.

Yet, when Jesus gets word that Lazarus is sick, He deliberately delays. Jesus doesn’t run to Lazarus’s side and heal him. Instead, Jesus spends two more days where He is and during that time Lazarus dies. Why? Why did Jesus wait and let His friend whom He loved die? Jesus let Lazarus die because He had a plan. The whole of the matter, from beginning to end, was no mystery to Jesus. The plan from the outset was to raise Lazarus from the dead.

It took another four days for Jesus to get to Bethany, the home of Mary and Martha and where their dead brother, Lazarus, had already been buried. Jesus even missed the funeral. Talk about being late. When Martha finds out Jesus is in town, she rushes out to see Him. In their conversation, we get one of the great verses of hope and promise. Jesus said in John 11:25-26,

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha then goes and gets Mary along with all the others who had been mourning with them.

Now comes the interesting moment. When Jesus sees Mary and Martha and all the people mourning with them, He is moved deeply and weeps as well. Jesus wept. But why? He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew the story was going to have beyond a happy ending. He knew that He was about to do something truly awesome. Yet – Jesus wept. He didn’t try to shush everyone. He didn’t scold them for not having faith. He didn’t try to tell them that everything was going to be ok. He didn’t turn the processional to the tomb into a victory parade. He walked with them and He wept with them.

Jesus wept because He understood and felt their pain and sorrow. God is the God of eternity, but He is also the God of the moment. He doesn’t belittle or dismiss how we feel simply because He knows how He will work everything out. Instead, He walks with us and feels with us in the times of our deepest hurt. Mary, Martha, and the crowd might have thought Jesus was late, but how can the One who can undo anything, including death, be late?

I don’t know what you are going through, but Jesus does. I don’t know how it will work out, but Jesus does. I don’t know how you feel, but Jesus does. Whatever it is, He has a plan. He is walking with you and He feels what you feel. Jesus weeps with you. He isn’t late, and in the end you will see whatever it is that has “died” in your life, raised again. Then, Jesus will rejoice with you.

Copyright © John P. King, used with permission.

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