The Smallest Verse in the Bible
— John 11:35
When I was a teenager, we played games in our youth group that helped us memorize Bible verses. Often our Sunday school teacher or youth leader would ask us Bible questions to see how well we really knew God’s Word. A question often asked, and one that nearly everyone in the group could answer, was this: “What is the shortest verse in the Bible?”
Everyone in the group would simultaneously yell out, “I know, I know!” So the teacher would ask, “All right, what is it?” Almost in chorus, the teenagers would shout, “Jesus wept!” Everyone in the group knew the answer to that one!
This little verse is found in John 11, where Jesus had just received information that Lazarus, one of His dearest friends, had died. Several days later, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the city where Lazarus lived with his two sisters, Mary and Martha. As Jesus approached the city, Mary and other friends who had gathered met Him. John 11:33 tells us, “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.”
The Greek New Testament makes it clear that Jesus was deeply troubled when He arrived in Bethany. Perhaps He was troubled because of the disbelief of those who were present or because of what Satan had attempted to do to His dear friend. But one thing is sure: What Jesus was experiencing wasn’t just a matter of human emotions, for the Bible says He “groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.”
The word “troubled” comes from the Greek word taresso, which depicts one who is deeply stirred. This describes a deep, inward form of prayer when Jesus’ spirit hooked up with the Holy Spirit in a powerful, supernatural expression of the Father’s will and released the anointing required to meet the need of that moment. I understand this type of deep stirring even from my own prayer life. There are times when prayer is too deep for words, and it may be expressed as groanings or with tears as the Holy Spirit takes hold together with me and helps me pray from my spirit what my mind cannot articulate (see Romans 8:26). It was in this state of being that Jesus said, “…Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.”
Immediately John 11:35 states: “Jesus wept.”
The word “wept” is the Greek word dakruo, which refers to an abrupt release of tears. So when the Bible says Jesus wept, it means He actually burst into tears and sobbed. It was a torrent of tears. His emotions were gripped by the moment as He looked upon the unbelief of attenders and realized that death that seized His friend. But in that moment, Jesus pushed beyond it all, lifted His voice, and declared, “Lazarus, come forth” (v. 43)!
The Greek here is a command with no hint of a suggestion or any option. What He was commanding, He expected to take place. An interpretive translation of this verse could read: “Lazarus, come out — now!” And just as Jesus had commanded, it came to pass. John 11:44 tells us, “And he that was dead came forth….”
That day was quite revealing about Jesus. It let us know that Jesus was not always stoic about the issues that He faced in His earthly ministry. There were several episodes in the four gospels where Jesus demonstrated emotion: anger with merchants in the temple (see John 2:14-16), sadness that His disciples did not believe (see Matthew 8:26), and joy when His disciples got it right (see Matthew 16:17). We also see that Jesus experienced fleeting moments when He was tempted to be troubled. But rather than give in to that unproductive moment of emotion, Jesus rose above it, took authority over the situation, and turned the moment around for the glory of God. What could have ended in tears ended in victory because Jesus lifted His voice and gave a command!
What are you facing right now? Do you feel the temptation to be gripped with paralyzing emotions? This story lets us know that Jesus was tempted with that too. Do you feel tugged by tears? Tears tugged Jesus’ emotions too. Is your voice of authority needed to bring a change to the situation you have found yourself in right now? Jesus’ voice was needed too. He understands completely when you cry, and He knows what it means when you need to push beyond the emotion in order to release faith into a situation.
If you have been gripped by emotion in a particular challenge you’re currently facing, I urge you to spend some time today with the Lord and pour out your heart to Him. Once you’ve worked that emotion out of your soul, it will be time for you to lift your voice and take action. Let the authority embedded in your spirit speak! And when your voice releases that authority that is yours by right as a child of God, don’t budge an inch! Speak, as Christ spoke, giving no hint of suggestion or a different option. Command in the name of Jesus what you expect to take place! Just as Jesus rose to the moment, took authority over the situation, and turned it around for the glory of God, this can become your moment to rise to victory. What could have ended in tears can end in victory!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, today I give You my emotions. I confess that at times they have tried to dominate me and steal my joy. I’ve allowed others to affect me, and I’ve permitted bad situations to impact me. I’m tired of living the way I’ve lived, Father. You have called me to live above defeat, and today I am making the choice to let the power of the Holy Spirit within lift me to a new place of victory I’ve never known before. Rather than just throw in the towel and quit in defeat, I will lift my voice and speak to the need, and I will see the power of God work on my behalf!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I’m not conquered by my emotions or by the situations I am facing in life right now. Jesus is Lord of all in my life! He is Lord over me, my family, my health, my business, my money, my relationships — absolutely everything. I refuse to allow my emotions to dominate my faith and my responses to life. With the Holy Spirit reigning in my spirit, I rise to the moment by the power of God! I speak powerful words of victory that turn potentially bad situations into glorious moments.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!