John 11:35 is well-known for being the shortest verse found in the scriptures: “Jesus wept.”
But while that New Testament passage contains but two words, it is long in meaning and significance. Readers gain a glimpse of divine emotion and a deeper understanding of the Savior’s compassion and love.
Emotions, of course, play an essential role in the Standard Works. According to curators of the Brigham Young University exhibition aptly titled “Jesus Wept: Emotions in the Scriptures,” 127 emotion words and their various conjugations appear 9,685 times across a total of 7,238 verses. One in six verses across Mormon scripture contain at least one emotion word.
Emotions are often dismissed in today’s culture. They are something to be contained and held within. But as noted in the exhibition, they are an integral element of the human and divine experience. Emotions punctuate the mortal experience and add texture and depth to everyday lives. They are universal and felt across time and space.
“Jesus Wept: Emotions in the Scriptures” is on display in the third floor gallery of BYU’s Joseph F. Smith Building. The exhibition is contained in a single room — but there’s much to see.
One wall display presents statistical evidence of just how much emotions help define the scriptures. The Book of Mormon, for example, has the highest percentage of emotion words in the Standard Works, followed by the New Testament.
The 10 most frequent emotion words found across the Standard Works? In descending order — love, fear, desire, anger, peace, rejoice, joy, wrath, please and hate.
Anchoring the exhibition is a display chronicling the spectrum of emotions felt by Jesus Christ across the scriptures that includes several familiar paintings of the Lord.
But “Jesus Wept: Emotions in the Scriptures” stretches beyond statistical reference. It also challenges viewers to explore and better understand their own emotional experience. Emotional awareness can add new measures of depth to the joys of life — while helping one cope when emotions are sad or challenging.
“Remember,” reminds one exhibition panel, “you are not left alone on this journey. Our Savior Jesus Christ has endured all things so we might rejoice.”
Interactive elements allow visitors to make individual connections to the exhibition. A hands-on spinning wheel offers a range of construction options for dealing with negative emotions. Ideas include practicing self-compassion, serving someone, attending the temple, praying and seeking social support.
Ultimately, the exhibition doubles as a celebration of the many emotions that link people of all backgrounds to their Creator. As taught in Moses 2:27: “And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.”
The exhibition was co-curated by Emily Darowski, W. Ben Hill and Heather M. Seferovich.
“Jesus Wept: Emotions in the Scriptures” is presented free of charge. Call 801-422-6519 for more information.