Today’s reading includes a passage that is disputed among Christians and I’d like to give you my condensed take on it so you can consider it while you ponder the meaning for yourself.
I’m referring to what’s commonly known as the shortest verse in the Bible: John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” The dispute I write about surrounding this verse is not about the length, but about the feeling being communicated in it. Mourners and empaths choose to read it as Jesus being compassionate and weeping with those who mourn. While this view isn’t necessarily wrong (it does show Jesus’ humanity), it does detract from His deity which is part of what they need to believe to be saved AND why He handled the sisters’ request the way He did. I say, the context clearly reveals that it’s showing that Jesus was troubled by their lack of belief in Who He is and what He can do.
In the email that subscribers received yesterday containing today’s reading, I bolded the words that support this belief and I’ll lay things out in more detail here. As I told subscribers in the email dated September 26, 2019, John’s gospel portrays Jesus as God. John also wrote his gospel with the stated intention, “so that you may believe.”
John states in verse 19:35 that “…he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.” In this verse, John is the “he” he’s referring to in “he who has seen” and “he knows that he is telling the truth.” I believe that John was the only one of the four gospel writers to have witnessed this miracle because he doesn’t mention the presence of Matthew, Mark, or Luke and because none of them wrote about this miracle. It’s indicated in verse 11:16 that Thomas is the only one who may have been with Him.
In the dispensation of the Kingdom Proclaimed, their method of salvation was “Faith + Works” and part of what they had to believe was that Jesus is (the Son of) God.
Now, I’ll put the words I bolded in the email in John chapter 11 into a little story.
Jesus said (v. 4), “…but for the glory of God, that God’s Son may be glorified by it.” Then when (v. 6) …[Jesus] heard that [Lazarus] was sick, He stayed two days in the place where He was.” Jesus tells His disciples (v. 11) “…Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.” Then (v. 14), “…Lazarus is dead.” And (v. 15), “…so that you may believe.“ Then He tells Martha (v. 23), “Your brother will rise again”, and (v. 25), “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. 26 Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha answered (v. 27), “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, God’s Son.” Jesus sees Mary weeping and He (v. 33) “groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” Then (v. 35) “Jesus wept.” [Note: He silently shed a tear; groaned inwardly; didn’t wail like those who mourned.] Finally (v. 38), “again groaning in himself” (v. 40), “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see God’s glory?” [This last verse is referring to what He said in verse 25.]
If you’re able to read the above as a short, choppy story, I think you’ll be able to see that the “Jesus wept” is the second of three times that we read about Jesus groaning inwardly in the context of their disbelief. I would love to know what you think of this take on that verse. Do you agree or disagree?