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John 11:35

ESV Jesus wept.
NIV Jesus wept.
NASB Jesus wept.
CSB Jesus wept.
NLT Then Jesus wept.
KJV Jesus wept.

What does John 11:35 mean?

John 11:35 is infamously referred to as the "shortest verse in the Bible." It's worth mentioning that chapter and verse divisions were not part of the original Scriptures. John, who wrote this gospel, did not intend these two words—three in Greek—as a distinct statement. Despite being short, this phrase describes something incredible about the nature of God and the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Jesus has arrived a few days after the death of a good friend, Lazarus (John 11:17). Lazarus' sisters are in mourning, as are other friends and neighbors (John 11:18–19). Jesus has come here with the intention of raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:11–15). That fact, alone, gives this verse a context which boggles the mind. Christ is here to restore the dead man, but He still feels compassion for the mourners (John 11:33). That feeling is strong enough to produce tears.

Ancient deities were often stoic: they didn't express emotions. Those who did weren't the slightest bit concerned about human happiness. They saw humans as tools, toys, or slaves. Judaism, alone, presented a God who invested real love and compassion into His creations. The fact that Jesus—who is God incarnate (John 1:1–4)—experiences human sorrow, at all, is reason enough to be amazed. This moment speaks to His humanity, and His ability to sympathize with our pain and suffering (Hebrews 4:15–16).

The fact that Jesus weeps in this situation brings context to human pain and suffering. When bad things happen, we often ask, "does God even care?" This simple statement, "Jesus wept," proves that He does. Even when Jesus knew He was about to make right what was wrong, He still "felt" the pain of the people He was there to serve. Responding to tragedy, we sometimes ask, "If God really cared, why not stop this happening in the first place?" The Bible tells us even our hardest moments have a purpose in God's will (Romans 8:28). At the same time, Scripture tells us God truly, deeply understands the pain we feel while we wait for that plan to be completed (2 Corinthians 5:1–5; Isaiah 53:3).

Jesus is about to resurrect His good friend, bringing Lazarus back to his sisters and family. In the meantime, He weeps, sharing their pain and their sorrow. This response is described using a Greek term implying quiet tears, in contrast to the "wailing" described from the other mourners.
What is the Gospel?
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