The Most Fascinating Two Words
In All of Scripture
“Jesus wept”, . We know that this is the
shortest verse in the Bible. We also know that it is the
gateway to one of the most miraculous deeds Jesus
ever performed. Have you ever thought to stop and
ask…why Jesus wept? The answer may not be as simple
as it seems. Let’s talk about it. Here on 5 Minutes of
For many folks, the extent of their knowledge about
this amazing two word Scripture passage is that it
indeed is recognized as the shortest verse in all 66
books of the Bible. Many a Bible trivia contests have
included this footnote as a way to test both the novice
and the scholar.
But if there were a verse that practically begged to be
proof-texted or misunderstood, it would be hard to top
this one. Part of it is rooted in the fact that the verse is
included in one of Jesus’ most amazing miracles. John
chapter 11 tells the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from
the dead. It is an incredible event.
Lazarus, a dear friend of Jesus along with his sisters
Mary and Martha, lived in Bethany. A relatively small
town on the south eastern slope of Mt. Olive some 1
and a half miles from Jerusalem.
This family must have been precious to Jesus because
some members of this family were actually mentioned
by name more than some of His 12 Disciples. John
chapter 11 begins with Jesus receiving word that
Lazarus was sick. The implication was that the family
was requsting His presence. Jesus, however, does
something interesting. He clearly states that this
sickness “would not end in death” (). And
then…He lingered…for two more days before starting
the journey to Bethany.
Of course, by the time Jesus had arrived, Lazarus had
died from his illness. Since Bethany was about a day’s
journey from where Jesus was…and since Jesus lingered
for two days after receiving the news…and since we
know from Scripture that Lazarus had been dead 4 days
before Jesus got there: It is most probable that Lazarus
was already dead by the time Jesus got the message.
But that was the entire point. Jesus said the sickness
would not END in death. But Jesus wasn’t finished yet.
They were nowhere near the end of this story. Both
Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, were inconsolable.
So great was their grief that they both seemed to attach
Jesus’ lateness for the reason for Lazarus’ death. Both
sisters said: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother
would not have died”.
Jesus, as He did throughout Scripture, reassured them
by making one of His most hope-filled statements: “I am
the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in
me…though he were dead…yet shall he live.” I don’t
think the sisters had any idea what He meant with this
statement. But they, and us, were about to find out.
Jesus asked to be taken to the tomb where they had
laid Lazarus’ dead body. He asked that the stone would
be removed from the tomb at which point opposition
erupted. “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has
been dead four days.” Nonplussed Jesus did what He
always did…He revealed Himself for Who He truly was.
First, He prayed to His Father thanking Him for always
hearing Him…and then He said the famous words:
Lazarus…come forth. And that is exactly what he did.
But wait…weren’t we talking about a different verse?
The shortest verse? Jesus wept. Yes. But we can’t
understand that verse without seeing the whole
Let’s go back to our original question. Why did Jesus
weep? The quick, but incomplete, answer is: Because
He was sad about His friend. Granted. But we’re missing
something with that answer. After all…this is Jesus
we’re talking about.
Are we to think that He wept over the loss of His friend
all while knowing that He was going to see Lazarus
again in just a few moments? I mean, did Jesus just
forget He had the power to raise people from the dead
and it then just came to Him so that He said: Hey…why
am I crying? I can just resurrect Lazarus…yeah…that’s
Of course not. In fact, Jesus knew from the beginning
that Lazarus was going to die…and He knew that He was
going to raise him from the dead. If that’s the case…the
why the tears?
The answer is in verse 33. “When Jesus saw her (Mary)
weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He
groaned in the spirit and was troubled”. Then…He wept.
He wept because His children were weeping. He wept
because of what sin had and would continue to do to
His creation. He wept because He loved not only
Lazarus…and those around Lazarus…but also because
He loves us.
We will experience pain and suffering on this planet.
We will hurt at times more than we think we can bear.
We will weep for those whom we lose. And Jesus…He
weeps with us. And He whispers the words we long to
hear. “I will never leave you nor forsake you. And I am
with you always…even unto the ends of the age”. And
even…when we weep. How cool is that.
On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton, and all of us
here at Growth Project…keep reading God’s Word.
Dr. Purvis started Growth Project with Robert Houghton after spending 20 years on active duty as a Chaplain in the United States Navy. After many moves and multiple deployments, he settled in Winter Haven, Florida to do God’s will. A glutton for educational punishment Danny has a BA in English from Carson-Newman College, an MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary; and a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. He has been married to his wife Kimberly (whom he met when they were 6 years old) for nearly 30 years and they have four wonderful children.