“Jesus wept.” This is the shortest verse in the Bible and also the title of a new single from Sia’s deluxe version of the album This is Acting. The verse is a unique portrayal of Christ’s humanity. Sia’s single gives a true depiction of humanity with a hint of hope. Together, the verse and the song show us how light can overcome the darkness.
Though Jesus has power over the darkness of death, he still grieves over its brokenness. John tells us Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” when he saw Mary weeping over her dead brother, Lazarus. Everyone said he was too late, but Jesus came at the perfect time to display the glory of God in the face of death. He came to prove what he said to Lazarus’ other sister, Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
When Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again, she thought he was referring to the resurrection of the dead on the last day. He came to physically raise Lazarus from the dead, but that physical reality was a symbol of the spiritual reality of Christ’s power to also bring to life dead souls. This resurrection work is not just saved for our physical bodies on the last day, as Martha thought, but it is a spiritual work Christ inaugurated with his coming and continues to do today.
We can see this play out in the lives of those who are enslaved to the spiritual death of addiction, which Sia points to in “Jesus Wept.” The orchestral opening of the song cuts out to short harp strums and cello as Sia’s slow, plodding vocals begin the opening verse. Resembling the mournful sounds of a funeral dirge, the verses speak of the emptiness of “God-shaped holes” and how she tries to fill them with “bottled friends who won’t bring relief,” with parties, and “with mighty weed.” Sia seems to be referring to the same type of behavior exhibited in her hit song, “Chandelier,” which opens with these lines:
Party girls don't get hurt
Can't feel anything, when will I learn
I push it down, push it down.
As she pushes down the emptiness by binge drinking, she ends the verses with, “Throw 'em back, till I lose count.” In another verse, Sia mentions the addict’s close companion, shame:
Sun is up, I'm a mess
Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame.
And yet, with “Jesus Wept,” Sia introduces a light into this darkness of addiction. As the first verse ends, piano keys lead the way to the chorus, where Sia’s vocals become stronger and more confident:
How Jesus wept
He wept as he
Took twelve steps
And carried me
Oh, how he wept
Resurrection on me
In the third line of the chorus, Sia might be referring to the 12 steps of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous. She feels that someone carried her through that process and wept for her.
If Jesus’ weeping shows his humanity, then his power to raise the dead to life displays his deity. “Jesus Wept” slowly progresses towards a “blinding white light.” Sia’s vocals, along with the instrumentation, burst forth like a resurrection. As Jesus raised Lazarus to life, he can also raise those suffering from the spiritual death of addiction. Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe this?” To which she answered, “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Only the Son of God can weep over, carry, and raise to life that which is dead.