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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The shortest verse

Friday, November 30, 2012

Remember when we were children in church school and asked to memorize a Bible verse? How many of us chose John 11:35? You remember? "Jesus wept." It was short. But this shortest verse in the Bible is a word of dynamite in a small package. It stirs all kinds of questions and thoughts within me. "Why did Jesus weep?" "Do I ever cause Jesus to weep?" "What things in the world cause Jesus to weep today?" God weeps with us; God weeps over us.

The verse is part of the story of the death of Jesus' friend, Lazarus. Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha, are grieving deeply, saying, "If you had been here, our brother wouldn't have died." The unstated question and accusation is, "Where were you?!" Outside his tomb, Jesus weeps.

It is fantastic news to know and believe that the Son of God feels emotional pain with us. We are never alone in our suffering, discouragement, or agony. Jesus is not only with us, but He understands our pain and feels it with us. He is neither cold, nor distant, nor indifferent. His heart beats as one with ours.

Jesus' weeping at the grave of his friend is evidence of his compassion, his grieving, and his emotion. When you weep, the One who made you weeps too. Even in your darkness, you are not alone. He is a whispered prayer away. He hears us and listens in love. When we pray, he understands.

But, I also believe that Jesus wept outside Lazarus' tomb because he felt frustrated anger at the hold of death on our human lives. We hate death because of it's finality, it's separation, it's power over us. None of us gets out of here alive. So we grieve. He weeps because he also hates death.

That is why he was born, why he came, to conquer our final enemy -- death. His tears are his way of saying, "Enough!" So he submitted to die on a cross to take our weakness and sin upon himself. Rising again, he shares that victory with us.

More good news -- outside the tomb, the Lord of life calls out to the dead man, and a dead man "hears" him. Jesus' words restore life to the dead man. Jesus has the power to raise the dead.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we know that the holiday season is highly emotional. Feelings are magnified. Expectations raised. For many, the holidays are a blue time, increasing the melancholy, and intensifying the loneliness. Not everyone is happy at Christmas. For the love of Jesus, we should take time to listen, to care, to encourage.

Leading up to Christmas, we are in the season of Advent, the season of "expectant waiting." The Latin word "adventus" means "coming." We not only prepare to celebrate our Savior's birth. We also wait in hope of the day Jesus will return again. The scriptures say that when he comes a second time, he will make all things new. No more suffering, no more death, no more tears, no more sadness. What a day that will be!

In the second to last verse of the scriptures, Revelation 22:20, Jesus says, "Yes, I am coming soon." And with John, the author of Revelation, we respond, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

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