"For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves."

The Shortest Verse in the Bible

Jesus Wept Statue

by Timothy Cross

Did you know that John 11:35 is the shortest verse of all the 31,173 verses which comprise the Bible? John 11:35 is easy to memorise, as it consists of just two words. It states succinctly Jesus wept. Whilst John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the entire Bible though, it contains depths which even the greatest of theologians are unable to plumb. The verse tells us that Jesus - the eternal Son of God - actually wept - He experienced grief and sorrow, and could not but give physical expression to it.
Meditating on John 11:35, the shortest verse of the Bible, note:-

1. The Humanity of our Saviour

Jesus wept. John 11:35 reveals the real, tender humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was and is as truly human as He was and is divine - the eternal Son of God. Jesus wept. Grief is a human emotion. It is experienced solely by those made in the image of God, made up of both a body and a soul. In the Lord Jesus Christ then, God actually became man:-

Christ the Son of God became man, by taking to Himself a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin (Shorter Catechism).

John 1:14 tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. Hebrews 2:14 explains Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same nature … The humanity of the Lord Jesus is important. Eternal deity cannot die. God is immortal. Christ took upon Himself our humanity as an integral part of God’s eternal plan of salvation. He became man so that He could die and so pay the wages of the sin of His people. The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3).

2. The Sympathy of our Saviour

Jesus wept. Every text has its context. The context of John 11:35 is the death of Lazarus at Bethany, and the consequent grief of Martha and Mary his sisters. Jesus’ tears were tears of deep sympathy. John 11:33 records When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.


John 11:35 then reveals the sympathy of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will all go down into the depths of suffering and sorrow at some time in our lives. God in Christ has experienced those depths too. The God of the Bible is no remote, passive, removed, unfeeling deity. Isaiah foretold that the Lord Jesus would be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that in the Lord Jesus we have not a high priest Who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but One Who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Isaac Watts wrote:-

With joy we mediate the grace
Of our High Priest above
His heart is made of tenderness
And overflows with love

Touched with a sympathy within
He knows our feeble frame
He knows what sore temptations mean
For He has felt the same.

3. The Glory of our Saviour

Jesus wept. Paradoxically, the same Bible which reveals that Jesus wept also reveals the Lord Jesus as the great dryer of tears. John 11 records Him drying Martha and Mary’s tears. Their tears were caused by the death of their brother Lazarus - but Jesus raised Lazarus back to life again, confirming His claim in John 11:25,26 that ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.‘

If there was no sin, there would be no tears. Sin has brought misery in its wake. Sin brings God’s judgement, and ultimately death and eternal separation from God’s love - unless it is dealt with. On the cross though Christ died for sinners. He dealt with our sins, so that when we believe in Him, our sins are forgiven, we are reconciled to God and promised an eternal, tear-free existence with God, in His nearer presence.

Tears for the Christian are real. We live in a fallen world. Christians are not immune from suffering. Yet tears for the Christian are only temporary. The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18). Better, glorious days are surely coming, because of the grace of God in Christ. The Apostle John was actually given a prophetic glimpse of this glorious time promised to all God’s children - and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he wrote it down. In Revelation 21:3 ff. we read: Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them; HE WILL WIPE AWAY EVERY TEAR FROM THEIR EYES, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.

Jesus wept. The shortest verse in the Bible reveals Jesus’ real, tender humanity and sympathy. It also reminds us to keep trusting Jesus, for if we belong to Him, one day, all our tears will be banished forever!

Timothy Cross

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Last Update: 2013-08-12 16:41