TO CHEW ON: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35
As the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35 has received its share of attention. But that’s not the reason for our focus on it today. For though brief, this verse shines a light on one of Jesus’ most endearing qualities—His sympathy.
- Matthew recognized this quality in Him. After his account of Jesus’ gentle manner in healing the man with the withered arm, and His refusal to confront His enemies prematurely, he points out how the prophecy of Isaiah 42:1-4 (… a bruised reed He will not break, / And smoking flax He will not quench…”) was fulfilled in Jesus - Matthew 12:18-21.
- In our reading today we see how He wept with His grieving friends, even though He knew that their grief was about to turn to incredulous joy.
- As Jerusalem came in view during His triumphal donkey ride into the city, “He saw the city and wept over it.” It seems that he had prophetic insight over Jerusalem’s fate and it broke His heart - Luke 19:41-43.
- He was thoroughly aware of human frailty when He found the disciples asleep, though He needed them to watch and pray for His sake and their own. His words show His knowledge of human nature: “'Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak'” - Matthew 26:41 (emphasis added); also in Mark 14:38.
- His sympathy as the risen Lord is the subject of a wonderful passage in Hebrews. Because He, our “High Priest” can sympathize with our weaknesses and “was in all points tempted as we are…” we are invited to come, indeed come “boldly” to Him for help when we need it.
I love how the Message puts this:
“We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help” - Hebrews 4:15-16 MSG.
As we go through today, let’s remember that Jesus’ eyes on us are full of understanding, sympathy, maybe even tears. And His hand is stretched out, inviting us to grab hold and hang on.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for these reminders of Your sympathetic heart toward us fragile and needy humans. Help me to come to You without hesitation whenever I feel needy. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.