My dad, who is a retired Baptist minister and an outstanding teacher of the Bible, asked me to substitute-teach his Sunday school class this week. Most of the people in his class don’t know me very well, so they are probably expecting that the Bible teaching skills of the father have been passed on to the son. They are sorely mistaken.
I’ve taken the task seriously, though, and have been studying and reading commentaries on the scripture passage, which is from John 11 in the New Testament. It tells how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
I can’t seem to get to that part, though, because I’ve become fixated on one verse, John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.”
So simple, so elegant, so beautiful. And so packed with potential for great discussion. Why did he weep? Was it because the Son of God was experiencing human emotion over the death of a friend? Was it because of his disappointment in Martha’s questioning why he didn’t arrive sooner? Was it because he knew he would soon face death himself? And why did the people who organized the Bible decide to make those two words a verse unto themselves? What were they trying to say about it?
We don’t know. We only know that Jesus wept.
I keep thinking how communication can be so short and to the point and yet so powerful. It’s a beautiful thing. No extraneous words. No flowery phrases. Just a simple statement that, when taken in context, packs a punch.
As I discussed this on Facebook, my friend Steve Crescenzo observed: “What would corporate lawyers do with such a simple, beautiful sentence? After the approval process, it would look like this: ‘From a distance, it appeared that Jesus, or someone resembling Jesus of Nazareth, or a close relative of Jesus of Nazareth, appeared to have what could have been a foreign substance trickling out of his eyes, though it could have been sweat, as it was very hot that day, so there is no way to be sure.’”
If only Jesus could fight the corporate lawyers like he fought the Pharisees.