Jesus wept.

Today we are going to talk about the three shortest verses in the bible, but this does not mean today’s sermon will be short! It’s quite the opposite because the bible, more that any other written word in the world, also has a way of saying a lot…without saying too much.

Knowing these three verses will help each of us to walk victoriously in Christ.

Does you know what the shortest verse is in the bible?

John 11:35: Jesus wept, is the shortest verse in the bible. It is 10 characters long, including the little space between the two words.

Do you know the second shortest?

I Thessalonians 5:16 “rejoice always” 14 characters (RSV)

The third?
I Thessalonians 5:17 “pray constantly,” 15 characters (RSV)

Isn’t amazing how much can be said without saying much?

John 11:35: Jesus wept.

Have you ever considered that verse? What would make the Son of God weep openly?

Let’s look at the story in John: Jesus’ friend Lazarus has died and his disciples are urging him to go to Bethany.

17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”

32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”

They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”

35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” (NKJV)

Was Jesus weeping just for the death of Lazarus, or was there something more that made His Spirit groan. As Lord, He has seen death in all of its ugly forms, but here, here in John, we see His humanity, and his heart.  We have seen God shed blood, wrath, grace, mercy and great love up until now; we have never seen God shed tears.

Why did Jesus weep?

We can gain a fuller understanding of why Jesus wept by looking at the other two shortest versus in the bible.

I Thessalonians 5:16 “rejoice always “.

As Jesus approached Bethany, He saw weeping and lamenting which is something that we all do when a loved one passes.  Both Mary and Martha claim that the Lord would have saved Lazarus had He been there. Did they not believe in her heart that He could have saved Lazarus had he not been there?

Seeds of doubt rob us from our joy in Christ, Seeds planted in the flesh wrestle against the Spirit and in times of distress, we doubt and we certainly do not do a lot of rejoicing. What we do is cry; we lament, tear our clothes and throw ashes upon ourselves. Jesus wept because in their grief, they did not acknowledge that Lazarus had gone to a better reward. They saw Lazarus defeated, his body left for corruption. There can’t be any victory in death, or so our flesh would lead us to believe.

King David, when his son took ill, lamented and when the son passed, David began to get back to his life. What did he know that gave him the courage to face the day without his beloved son?
2Sa 12:15 Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill.

2Sa 12:16 David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.

2Sa 12:17 So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them.

2Sa 12:18 Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, “Indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He may do some harm!”

2Sa 12:19 When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.”

2Sa 12:20 So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate.

2Sa 12:21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.”

2Sa 12:22 And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’

2Sa 12:23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

Is that easy to do? Rejoice always? No. To worship God in the time of our sorrows? No. And don’t any of you go measuring your faith by it either.

Just know who you are in Jesus and in time, your spirit will rejoice constantly because of the freedom that there is in Christ Jesus.

How do you get there? How do any of us get to that place where we walk with God, in His presence and not look the left or to the right?

Let’s look at the 3rd shortest verse:

I Thessalonians 5:17 “pray constantly,”

Pray constantly. Be in the Word of God. Let it cover you like a blanket. Let it be it shield and sword. Petition the Lord with all of your heart, with all of your mind and with all of your spirit in everything that you do.

Now you might be saying “Well, I pray a lot, at least once a day” and I say great! Don’t measure your faith by how much time you spend in prayer. But prayer is not like anything else we do. It does not require physical activity, vigorous training or any format that makes it difficult. Prayer does not require a special room, place or thing to initiate it. It does not require music. It does not require an audience.

Prayer is you. And Him. Alone. In the car, in the shower, in the bed as you wake up in the morning. Prayer can take place while watching Lost. Prayer can be done no matter where you are, and almost no matter what you are doing, you can keep your mind on the Lord.

Is it easy? No, not at all. Easier than rejoicing constantly, but harder to do sometimes, especially when you are not “in the mood” to pray.

Prayer can bring revelations about yourself and your relationship with God. Who are you in God? Does He see you as a sinner? Or does He see you as a Saint who sins sometimes? Me, I am a Saint that sins sometimes and I know that He is there to pick me up when I fall.

So how does this answer the question of why Jesus wept and how we can walk in victory?

Let’s examine those verses in John a little more closely. John 11:33 tells us that Jesus groaned in His Spirit. The Greek for verse 33 where He groans in His spirit is translated from the word embriaomai, (em-brē-mä’-o-mī) which means to snort in anger. The Lord was angry!

These were some of His closest friends. They acknowledged that “had He been there” Lazarus would not have died. Even those that had followed Him most closely during His ministry did not completely believe Him. They did not understand the enormity of who He was.

Then he groans yet again (same Greek is applied) to Martha in verse 38 as he approached Lazarus’s tomb, she doubts Him again by saying that a stench was there because her brother had been dead for four days, He says to her in verse 40:

Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God” She doubted His deity. She did not pray. She did not rejoice.

Martha was no different from the Jews in her sorrow. She grieved as the world grieves. She acted like the world acted. Jesus wept because He saw the pain and sorrow that death brings to those that are close to hearth and home. But He did not weep as the others wept.

He wept and was angry at the same time. How many of us have been so mad that tears come? I know I have, and I think this is what we are seeing here.

They did not rejoice. They did not pray but here, in verses 41, 42 Jesus does pray:

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.  And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.

And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”

How often do we forget that our Lord can save us from Death itself if it His will. How often are we seen by Him and others with little or no difference from those in the world? Jesus saw it then and He sees it now. The Good news is that He forgives us our weak faith just as He forgave Peter’s.

So why did Jesus weep?

Jesus saw Christians act like the non-Christians around them. When the people that were closest to Him saw Him, should they not have rejoiced, knowing that God walked among them and rejoice that Lazarus was in Heaven? But they didn’t. They behaved in a fashion that the world behaves. Why?

I think it is because of this: Although they knew in their minds Jesus was the Son of God they did not fully realize in their hearts who they were in God.

Again I ask why did they not fully realize who they were in Christ?

Who here today call themselves Christians? How many of you would say that you are a sinner?

Brothers and sisters that is a lie. You are not sinners. And I can prove it!

Psychology tells us if somebody tells us something enough times, we begin to

  • a: believe it and
  • b: become it.

Satan is whispering everyday, that you are sinner. Pastors, with good intentions, every Sunday tell us that we are sinners. “Fallen short from God.”

T.V evangelists yell out daily “Repent! Sinner!” The Book of Common Prayer laments “Have mercy upon us miserable sinners.”
It is the forces of Hell that tell us that we are too fat, too ugly, too poor, too unworthy. It is Satan that stands before the throne accusing us. We hear it from the pulpit, that we are SINNERS.

There is no edification there.

There is no building up of the Faithful in those harsh words. None.

There is no hope in those condemning words. It is like saying, “I love you…but…”

It’s a lie that has coursed its way through history. Since the death and resurrection of our Lord, the world was told of its sin. The world was told of its sin.

What about those of us who have embraced God’s and have turned away from the world?

Jesus would have known that Lazarus would be in Glory and not just some dead person with no soul. Jesus was a comforter, but His tears weren’t used to comfort. He could have easily said “Rejoice Martha and Mary, for Lazarus is with the Father.”

He did not. He offered no words of comfort to the sisters. He was there to show them who He was and who the Father was. He was there to teach them that even Death had no dominion.

What does the Lord tell us who we are?

The Scriptures lists one reference to people that have become saved in Christ as sinners.

1 Timothy 1:15 NIV “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”

But then we need to read verse 16 to put that into context.

1 Timothy 1:16 NIV

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Romans 5:8 NIV says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Did you catch that?

While we WERE still sinners. So what are we now?

Mull over these points from the New Testament

John1:12, 13 I am God’s child –

12. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–
13. children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John 15:15 I am Christ’s friend

15. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 I belong to God
19. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  20.you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Ephesians 1.1 I am a saint
1.To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Can we stop on this one just for a minute? I want to hear everyone here say “I am a Saint” Do you feel that? Let’s say it one more time. I am a Saint! Nothing feels better than the truth.

Ephesians 1:5 I have been adopted as God’s child

5.he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–


Ephesians 2:18 I have direct access to God

18. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Colossians 1:14 I have been redeemed
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 2:10 I am complete in Christ
10. and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
So what do these verses mean? I AM ACCEPTED

Romans 8:1, 2 I am free from condemnation

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:31 I AM FREE FROM CONDEMNATION

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
2 Corinthians 1:21, 22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God
21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Philippians 1:6 the good work God has started in me WILL be completed
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:7 I have power and not fear
7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.


1 John 5:18 the evil one CANNOT touch me.

18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.

What do these verses teach us? I AM SECURE


John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed

16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
2 Corinthians 6:1 I am God’s coworker
1 As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.
Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship
10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 3:12 I can approach God with freedom and confidence
12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.


Philippians 4:13 I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.

13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
So, what do these verses say to you? YOU ARE SIGNIFICANT How many verses was that? 20….much more than 1.

We are not sinners, we are saints who sin sometimes. We fall upon the Rock to repent and the Lord forgives us our trespasses

We are God’s workmanship and I am His son. You are His sons and daughters. What power there is to say that! What freedom we have! What victory we have! It is all His for His glory and sometimes our lights don’t shine as brightly as we would like them to. Repent and move on. Revel in the victory that He has given you. Given all of us.

Charles Spurgeon writes: Do you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you love the Lord Jesus? Do you stand on Christ, the solid rock? Have you built your hope of heaven alone on him? Have you, as a guilty sinner; cast yourself at his mercy seat, looking to his blood and righteousness, to be saved by them, and by them alone? If so, fear not to die; ye shall be safe, whenever the summons comes to you. But if not, tremble, tremble! You may die tomorrow – you must die one day. It will be a sad thing so to die as to be lost beyond recovery. May God Almighty grant that we may be all saved at last, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

So why did Jesus weep? He wept because sometimes, like Mary and Martha, we do not fully realize in our hearts who we are in God. He wept because of them, He wept because of you and He wept because of me.

But the good news is that His weeping makes me look to the Cross. His last lesson to us was to teach us that His victory is our victory.

He prayed:

Luke23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

He rejoiced:

John 19:30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

His work was done and He rejoiced.


1 comment for “Jesus wept.

  1. May 8, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    great post as usual!

Comments are closed.