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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jesus Wept

Jesus wept.
That's the shortest verse in the Bible, and in many ways, the most astonishing.  Think of it.  Christians worship a God who cries.  I don't think any other religion in the history of the world has done that.  The Roman world must've been dumbstruck by such a notion; the biggest going philosophy of the time was Stoicism, which maintained among other things, that the wise man is immune to strong emotions.  "Be in control of your emotions, or your emotions are in control of you," sort of thing, and here's Jesus.  Weeping.  God, philosophers have argued since time immemorial, would be above suffering, impassible: to have passions meant one was subject to outside forces.  When people talk about the Passion of Christ, they aren't talking about his love, but his suffering.  Outside forces worked him around like a rag doll in a tornado.
It is an odd thing, but to a Christian the concept of God is not complete unless God has known all things, experienced all things, felt all things - including the shedding of futile tears.
Today we celebrate the Resurrection which is a pretty remarkable event, but lots of religions have worshipped gods that died and came back to life: The Golden Bough is chock full of such examples.  But no religion besides Christianity ever had a god that wept.


  1. The verse occurs in the story of the death of Lazarus, and it always seemed strange to me that Jesus would weep over the death of a man whom He is about to raise from the dead. Naturally, religious scholars through the ages have taken shots at the meaning: Jesus's tears were shed for the victory of death over mankind...his tears were frustration that the people (like most of his disciples) did not truly understand who He really was, or else they would have KNOWN that He had power over death...that sort of thing.
    I thought for the LONGEST time that this verse described Jesus's frustration when one of his disciples said something real ignorant. (Which is generally when we hear it quoted nowadays:
    Teenage son: "I had to drink up all your beer, Dad. The power went out, and I was afraid it might spoil!"
    Father, shaking his head sadly: "Jesus wept.")

    And I only recently learned that...in the original Greek...it is not the shortest verse. "And the second" is a verse in either Mark or Luke somewhere, and written out in Greek is a letter or two shorter. But it doesn't make as good an expletive.
    Happy Easter!

  2. I bumped into your blog after watching They Might Have Been Giants Last month after nearly thirty years, and realized that there were no railroad tracks emerging from that abyss Holmes and Watson were confronting. (I'd always imagined that they were slain by a train.) So I googled the ending and found your blog, saving your comment. Today I reread it, then glanced through your comments to this point, eventually wishing, as I often do, that one who I come appreciate share my faith. Perhaps you do. I certainly love my Lord: Father, Brother, Spirit--whomsoever. . . Perhaps you shall meet Scruggs and Watson in heaven. I hope so. Perhaps I will join you all in a session of praise, although I play no worldly instrument.