When I asked Silas about his craft, he shrugged.
“They wanted us to write a Bible verse on the outside,” he says.
There are two words written on his jar.
“Is that why yours says, ‘Jesus wept?’” I ask. Which is what Jesus might do looking at this jar with green and gold glitter clinging to the inside, a fake candle in the bottom and the J of Jesus heading right instead of left. Weep.
“It was the shortest verse I could think of, “he says. Then, like he’s letting me in on a secret, he adds “all my friends wrote it on their jars, too.”
My body language is caught off guard. I’m not sure whether to laugh out loud or be appalled out loud. I can imagine a dozen jars on a dozen counters all reminding us that Jesus wept.
Which is true. The Bible records in John 11:35 the shortest verse, “Jesus wept.”
What my boy may not remember from the story is that Jesus’s friend Lazarus has just died. His sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word for Jesus to come. Before Lazarus’s death. Both sisters separately say to Jesus upon his arrival, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
And they know this because Lazarus’s death began with a sickness. And they know that Jesus healed the sick. Surely had he been there he would have healed Lazarus.
But Jesus didn’t hurry to Lazarus. The Bible says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
He knew—Jesus knew Lazarus was sick and still he waited. We might say Jesus over-waited. By the time Jesus reaches Lazarus, Lazarus is dead. As in four-days-in-the-tomb dead.
But what Mary and Martha and all those watching didn’t know was that Lazarus’s death didn’t catch Jesus by surprise. It wasn’t an oopsie. Jesus knew—as fully God—that he would raise Lazarus from the dead to the glory of God his Father.
And yet, as fully man, Jesus wept, as he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
I’ve been catching glimpses of Silas’s craft jar out of my peripheral at every meal for two weeks. And the profoundness of the simple words on its side are only now settling. Maybe they’re unsettling.
We ask, “where was Jesus when…?” And we fill in the blank with our nightmares of life. Cancer. Death. Rape. Betrayal. Depression.
“Lord, if only you had been here…”
And I wonder if it isn’t like Lazarus–that Jesus wasn’t late. Isn’t late. That our story contains the same short sentence, “Jesus wept.”
I wonder, too, if like Mary and Martha, our final refrain isn’t John 11:35. But rather a sure hope in Jesus’s promise for those who believe.
“Did I not tell you,” Jesus says to Martha, “that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
If you believe…then you will see..
It’s a promise for all of us. A promise we can believe in, put our hope in.
Even when we weep.