2019-09-27 - My Favorite Verse
Originally Published 2013-11-08
Note: For Youth Sunday on November 4, 2013, I had planned to be through with my sermon preparation by Friday, so I could prepare my Sunday School lesson on Saturday. That just did not happen, and I had no idea what I would do. On my way in Sunday morning, I decided I would simply share a little about my favorite verse. This devotional is based on that little devotional/lesson. I do not believe last-minute prep is the way to go, but this time, it turned out okay, and I hope it will be a blessing to you.
I want to share my favorite verse with you. I like to think on this verse, and as a result, I have preached on it a few times and written about it a few more. The verse is John 11:35. Jesus wept. There are two reasons for the verse to be my favorite, and I would like to share both those reasons with you now.
First, it is the shortest verse in the Bible, so it's easy to remember. It consists of only two words – just nine short letters. If you want to count the space and period, it is 11 characters long. I could repeat it 11 times on a Twitter post, and still have enough room left over to do a couple of crying emoticons. Originally, the Gospel of John contained no chapters and verses; none of the Bible did. Why this little sentence got isolated is unknown by me, and since a single-word verse would not mean much, it is as simple as a verse could get.
Though short, this verse isn't in isolation; its context reveals a lot, and that's the next reason I like it. Jesus weeping in Siberian isolation would not be as good as the verse is in the context of the story it resides as part of, so let me share the backstory, so you will see what it is about the story that makes me like it so much.
A man named Lazarus gets deathly sick. He and his sisters are believers in Jesus, so they send friends out to look for Him. Back then, there was no Facebook to see where Jesus had last posted, and no cellphones with which to call him. There weren't even landlines or a telegraph, so to get word to someone somewhere else meant traveling to where he was. I picture Mary and Martha sending their friends out all over, searching, and then finally, some find Jesus. They say, “Jesus, please come heal Lazarus; he's looking bad. You've gotta come now!" Shockingly, Jesus says he will get there when he gets there, and that he has other things to do. Finally, three days later, he tells his disciples that it has been long enough; Lazarus is dead, so we can head over that way now. What? He delays until he is sure the guy that he was going to heal is dead. That is just nonsense!
So in context, we see that Jesus' timing is not our timing. When we encounter problems and seek Jesus out to fix us, don't be surprised if he says "no, not right now." It seems the Big D's drive us to Jesus – death, disease, and divorce. The times we need him most, Jesus just might say, "I'll get there when I get there. Trust me on it!”
Jesus finally arrives, and Lazarus is dead and gone, but his family and friends are still in mourning. Back then, there was no embalming, so they buried first and grieved later. Jesus arrives and finds an angry Martha. "If you'd have been here, this wouldn't have happened." Jesus finds Mary emotional - but on the opposite side. She is sad. Jesus asks if she believes he has resurrection power. She says "Yes, I know we'll see Lazarus at the end of the world." Then comes my verse. Jesus wept.
He weeps because his friends are upset. He weeps because his friend is dead. He weeps because they do not understand what he can do. For all of this – Jesus wept. And in so doing, he shows his humanity. He shows the frailty of humans.
Just a few minutes later, he asks for the grave to be opened. Then we have perhaps one of the funniest quotes from scripture. "Lord, by this time, he stinketh." I love the old King James. It took two words to help us show Jesus' humanity, but three to show his deity. "Lazarus, come forth!" Lazarus comes out of the tomb. Perhaps the other reason Jesus cried was that he knew he was going to yank Lazarus back from paradise.
His humanity and deity were revealed, because he did not answer prayer on our time - but on his own. That is why "Jesus wept" is my favorite verse.
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted