The Bible is a strange world. It is much, much larger on the inside than it is on the outside. Indeed, worlds of truth can be found in just one verse.
Consider the English Bible’s shortest verse. It takes less than a second to read the two simple words: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). But if we step into this verse, we discover complexity of cosmic proportions. This tiny linguistic shell contains a world of widespread wonder.
Set out to explore just the domain represented by Jesus and after many days we will find ourselves neither closer to the horizon’s edge before us nor nearer the starry expanse above us. For when we ponder the Infinite taking the form of the finite and the Immortal clothed with mortality; as we consider that the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, through whom and for whom all things were created (Colossians 1:16), was found in the unimaginable constraint of historical time, occupying the miniscule space of a human form (Philippians 2:8), we are traveling a terrain of mystery immeasurable. In the hollow of this single word is a world without end.
And look! Beside the endless world is an unfathomable sea! Can you contain in your human brain the currents that coursed through the divine mind as the Word made flesh (John 1:14), the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25), wept outside the tomb of a man whose death he purposefully allowed, a death he was about to destroy? What quaked deep inside his divinely human soul that heaved his oceanic emotions, causing his tearful tide to flow just before he commanded the beloved man’s mortis to lose its fatal rigor? If we set sail upon the weeping of Jesus we will discover such New Covenant continents as Abounding Grace, Substitution, Atonement, Propitiation, Redemption, Peace, Joy Unspeakable, and Everlasting Life. There is an Ocean Pacific in this drop of a tear.
The Best Adventure Is in the Ancient Book
Two words. Just two words out of nearly 800,000 in an English Bible.
O, Holy Bible! So misjudged by your unadorned cover, your disarmingly plain literary styles, your narrative understatements, and your colossal claims. Yet your words tell a story unparalleled and unrivaled, the greatest epic of all time. And your words, your words! They hold worlds of truth and oceans of meaning! And you have come to us out of the ancient past, through war and flame and deprivation and death. You come to us upon rivers of sacrificial blood, sweat, and tears that we might know what we must know to be forever free (John 8:32).
And O, we humans! Such facility for glory, such capacity for wonder if we will but take up the quest! Yet we can seek the cinema for excitement and the novel for novelty, spending our wonder on worlds that aren’t real while neglecting the real wonder-filled worlds contained in the words of the ancient book lying under-opened on our tables. Indeed, we are far too easily pleased.
This summer (or winter, southern hemisphere inhabitants) resolve again to take up the ancient book. Do not merely trot quickly and lightly over its words on your way to fun in the sun. For it has the power to soak your summer with substantial light and fill your fun from the fountain of awe.
This invitation is not to a religious obligation but to a glorious adventure, the best adventure, and in the end, the only adventure. You will not need to read long to find it. For if you look, you will find it in just one verse.