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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Jesus wept.—The word is different from that which is used to express weeping in John 11:33; but this latter is used of our Lord in Luke 19:41. The present word means not the cry of lamentation nor the wail of excessive grief, but the calm shedding of tears. They are on the way to the sepulchre, near to which they have now arrived. He is conscious of the power which He is about to exercise, and that the first result will be the glory of God (John 11:4); but He is conscious also of the suffering hearts near Him, and the sympathy with human sorrow is no less part of His nature than the union with divine strength. Men have wondered to find in the Gospel which opens with the express declaration of the divinity of our Lord, and at a moment when that divinity was about to receive its fullest manifestation, these words, which point them still to human weakness. But the central thought of St. John’s Gospel is “The Word was made flesh,” and He is for us the Resurrection and the Life, because He has been manifested to us, not as an abstraction which the intellect only could receive, but as a person, living a human life, and knowing its sorrows, whom the heart can grasp and love. A “God in tears” has provoked the smile of the stoic and the scorn of the unbeliever; but Christianity is not a gospel of self-sufficiency, and its message is not merely to the human intellect. It is salvation for the whole man and for every man; and the sorrowing heart of humanity has never seen more clearly the divinity of the Son of Man than when it has seen His glory shining through His human tears.
1. That the most tender personal friendship is not inconsistent with the most pure religion. Piety binds stronger the ties of friendship, makes more tender the emotions of love, and seals and sanctifies the affections of friends.
2. It is right, it is natural, it is indispensable for the Christian to sympathize with others in their afflictions. Romans 12:15; "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."
3. Sorrow at the death of friends is not improper. It is right to weep. It is the expression of nature and religion does not forbid or condemn it. All that religion does in the case is to temper and chasten our grief; to teach us to mourn with submission to God; to weep without complaining, and to seek to banish tears, not by hardening the heart or forgetting the friend, but by bringing the soul, made tender by grief, to receive the sweet influences of religion, and to find calmness and peace in the God of all consolation.
4. We have here an instance of the tenderness of the character of Jesus, The same Savior wept over Jerusalem, and felt deeply for poor dying, sinners. To the same tender and compassionate Saviour Christians may now come Hebrews 4:15; and to him the penitent sinner may also come, knowing that he will not cast him away.See Poole on "John 11:34" John 11:28; as he was meditating upon the state of his friend Lazarus, the distress his two sisters were in, and the greater damnation that would befall the Jews then present, who, notwithstanding the miracle, would not believe in him. This shows him to be truly and really man, subject to like passions, only without sin. Jesus wept.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 11:35. Ἐδάκρ. ὁ Ἰ.] He weeps, whilst on His way to the sepulchre, with those who were weeping. Note the eloquent, deeply-moving simplicity which characterizes the narrative; and remark as to the subject-matter, how, before accomplishing His work, Jesus gives full vent to the sorrow which He felt for His friend, and for the suffering inflicted on the sisters. It is also worthy of notice, that δακρύειν is here used, and not again κλαίειν,
His lamenting is a shedding of tears in quiet anguish, not a weeping with loud lamentation, not a κλαυθμός as over Jerusalem, Luke 19:41. It is a delicate discrimination of expressions, unforced, and true. According to Baur, indeed, tears for a dead man, whose grave was being approached in the certainty of his being raised to life again, could not be the expression of a true, genuinely human fellow-feeling. As though such feelings could be determined in a manner involving such deliberation, and as if the death of His friend, the grief of those by whom He was accompanied, as well as the wailings of the sisters, were not sufficient, of themselves alone, to arouse His loving sympathy to tears! It is precisely a genuine human emotion, which neither could nor should resist the painful impression produced by such a moment. But those obliterate the delicate character of this trait with their hard dogmatic hand, who make the tears shed by Christ refer to “the misery of the human race pictured forth in Lazarus” (Hengstenberg, comp. Gumlich).35. Jesus wept] Or, shed tears. The word occurs nowhere else in N.T.; it expresses less loud lamentation than the word used in John 11:31; John 11:33. He sheds tears on His way to their brother’s grave, not because He is ignorant or doubtful of what is coming, but because He cannot but sympathize with the intensity of His friends’ grief. “The intense humanity attributed to Jesus, His affection, His visible suffering, the effort with which He collects Himself, are all strong marks of authenticity, and the more so because they might be thought to conflict with the doctrine of the prologue. But this is but one more proof how little that doctrine has disturbed the Evangelist’s true historic recollection.” S. pp. 186, 7.John 11:35. Ἐδάκρυσεν, [wept] shed tears) not cried aloud [lacrymatus est, non ploravit]; nor did He weep at once; nor yet did He weep only after [not until after] He had seen Lazarus, but at the exact time when it was seasonable. He wept, lovingly, as John 11:36 testifies, on account of the death of Lazarus; not on account of his return to this life.Verse 35. - Jesus wept. The shortest verse, but one of the most suggestive in the entire Scripture. The great wrath against death is subdued now into tears of love, of sympathy, and of deep emotion. Jesus shed tears of sympathetic sorrow. This is in sacred and eternal refutation of the theory which deprives the incarnate Logos of St. John of human heart and spirit. These tears have been for all the ages a grand testimony to the fullness of his humanity, and also a Diving revelation of the very heart of God (see Isaiah 25:8). It was not a κλαυθμός, as the weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), but profound and wondrous fellow-feeling with human misery in all its forms, then imaged before him in the grave of Lazarus. It is akin to the judicial blindness which has obscured for the Tübingen school so much of the glory of Divine revelation, that Baur should regard this weeping of Jesus as unhistorical.
A different verb from that in John 11:31. From δάκρυ, tear, and meaning to shed tears, to weep silently. Only here in the New Testament. Κλαίω, to weep audibly, is once used of our Lord in Luke 19:41. "The very Gospel in which the deity of Jesus is most clearly asserted, is also that which makes us best acquainted with the profoundly human side of His life" (Godet). How far such a conception of deity is removed from the pagan ideal, may be seen by even a superficial study of the classics. Homer's gods and goddesses weep and bellow when wounded, but are not touched with the feeling of human infirmity (see on John 3:16). "The gods," says Gladstone, "while they dispense afflictions upon earth, which are neither sweetened by love, nor elevated by a distinct disciplinary purpose, take care to keep themselves beyond all touch of grief or care."
"The gods ordain
The lot of man to suffer, while themselves
Are free from care."
"Iliad," xxiv., 525.
So Diana, when appealed to by the wretched Hippolytus for sympathy, replies:
"I see thy love, but must not shed a tear."
Euripides, "Hippolytes," 1396.
The Roman satirist unconsciously bears witness to the profound truthfulness and beauty of this picture of the weeping Savior, in the words: "Nature confesses that she gives the tenderest of hearts to the human race by giving them tears: this is the best part of our sensations" (Juvenal, "Satire" xv., 131-133).
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