Then the Jews said, "See how He loved him!"
I. CHRIST'S CAPACITY FOR TEARS.
1. It is obvious to say this capacity lay in his true human nature. As we read in Job, "Man is born to sorrow;" as our poet sings, "Man is made to mourn." Jesus was "a Man of sorrows."
2. Christ was capable of human sympathy. Men weep for themselves, and they weep for others. The tears of Jesus were tears shed, not for himself, but for members of this race whose nature he assumed.
3. This capacity lay yet deeper in our Lord's Divinity. It is unjust to represent God as unfeeling; he is susceptible of some deep "painless sympathy with pain." He pities and grieves over the sorrow he nevertheless in wisdom and in love permits.
II. THE OCCASIONS OF CHRIST'S TEARS. The narrative reveals:
1. His personal sorrow for the death of his friend. He had been wont to come to Bethany to meet with a cordial welcome and a friendly smile from Lazarus. And as he knew the joys of friendship, so did he experience the distress of bereavement. There was justice in the exclamation of the Jews, "Behold how he loved him!"
2. His sympathy with the grief of the bereaved sisters. Mary and Martha were nearest in kindred and in affection to the deceased Lazarus; and Jesus, who loved all three, could not but feet for the sisters whom he found in sorrow and in tears.
3. Consciousness of the power of sin. Nothing less than this can account for the prevalence and the bitterness of the heart's anguish. Jesus, who knew all things, knew this; it was sin which "brought death into the world with all its woes." In every instance of human mortality Jesus could not fail to discern the bitterer root of fruit so bitter. Hence the strong emotion he displayed, as he groaned and was stirred and moved by the mighty wave of feeling which swept over his soul.
III. THE PRACTICAL OUTCOME OF CHRIST'S TEARS. There are cases in which tears are a substitute for help. It was not so in the instance before us. The heart that found expression for its woe in tears, found expression for its sympathy and pity in the reaching out of a hand of help. Jesus first wept, and then succored the sorrowful and raised the dead. Christian sympathy should be like Christ's sympathy, which was not content with words and tears, but made for itself a way of practical compassion.
IV. THE SIGNIFICANT LESSONS OF CHRIST'S TEARS.
1. They assure us that we have in him a feeling Friend, who in all our afflictions is afflicted.
2. They teach us a lesson of sympathy - that we should "weep with those who weep."
3. They remind us by contrast of that state where "all tears shall be wiped from off all faces."
"The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
Behold how He loved him.
I. IN HIS ORIGINAL ENGAGEMENT IN HIS FAVOUR. By covenanting to live with us, die for us, and take our happiness into His hands.
II. IN HIS ASSUMPTION OF HUMAN NATURE.
1. He passed by the higher nature of angels.
2. He took our nature with all its poverty and trial.
III. IN THE TENOR OF HIS LIFE AND CONVERSATION.
1. His inspiration was that of mercy. When His disciples would have called down fire from heaven He told them that that was not His spirit.
2. This mercy was not a sentiment which dwelt in imagination on miseries it was not prepared to relieve, but was a vigorous active principle. "He went about doing good."
IV. IN THE SOURCES OF HIS JOY AND GRIEF. Nothing reveals the character so much as the action of the passions.
1. We have joy when our health, friends, temporal circumstances are good. Christ's joys turned not on Himself, but were connected with the happiness of men.
2. His griefs, too, were not connected with His own poverty and trouble, but with our misery. "Ye will not come unto Me."
V. IN THE CHARACTER OF HIS MINISTRY.
1. Its subject — salvation.
2. Its invitations, so tender and winning — "Come unto Me."
3. Its very threatenings are only hedges thrown up against the way to danger.
VI. IN HIS DEATH.
1. He died for us, which is a proof of love in any case.
2. He died when He had no need to die.
3. He died as no other could die.
VII. IN HIS LEAVING THE WORLD.
1. This was expedient for us, not for Him.
2. He establishes the ministry of reconciliation as He leaves.
3. He now governs all things for our good.
(A. Reed, D. D.)
I. BY THE SACRIFICES IT MAKES. The greater the inconvenience to which our friends submit for us, the greater do we take their love to be. To what has not love impelled affectionate parents and devoted servants. But Jesus, "Though He was rich," etc., He laid aside His glory and lived a life of labour, poverty, and contempt for us. Persons who had seen heaven only would be able to estimate this sacrifice —
II. BY THE SUFFERINGS IT ENDURED. Self-love makes us unwilling to suffer. Here again we labour under a difficulty arising from ignorance. We can know little even of His physical sufferings, which were the smallest of His agonies. His mental pain wrung from Him great drops of blood, the occasion of which was the curse of the law He bore for us. Of this He said, "If it be possible"; this extorted the "My God," etc. "Greater love hath no man than this." Should we die for a friend we should but anticipate what would come sooner or later; but Christ was immortal: and although as averse to suffering as we consented to die in a most painful manner.
III. BY THE GIFTS IT BESTOWS. Tried by this Christ's love is great beyond all comparison. He gives Himself, and all that He possesses — pardon, illumination, grace, comfort, heaven. Nor does He give what costs Him nothing. If we measure His gifts by what He gave for them they are inestimable.
IV. BY THE PROVOCATIONS IT OVERLOOKS. To love the kind and grateful is easy; but to persevere in doing good to the ungrateful and perverse, to forgive again and again is the triumph of love. The love of Christ transcends a father's or mother's love for their ungrateful offspring. He came to a race which for four thousand years had been disobeying Him, and when He came He was persecuted, and so He has been ever since. Even His professed disciples treat Him with distrust, etc.; but He endures still the contradiction of sinners. Conclusion: Is the love of Christ so immeasurably great?
1. Then surely we ought to return it with a love which bears some proportion to His.
2. Those who have not loved Christ begin to love Him now.
(E. Payson, D. D.)I. KNOWS ALL OUR CIRCUMSTANCES AND FEELINGS. Want of knowledge is a great impediment to friendship, and so is want of suitable expression. But Christ knows all, and needs no laboured utterances of ours.
II. HAS MANIFESTED SUPREME AFFECTION. No mother, sister, or lover can compare with Him. His love is neither impulsive, influenced by fancy, variable, selfish, or fastidious.
III. HAS HAD GREAT EXPERIENCE. He has always been in the world making friends. Abraham rejoiced to see His day; Jacob enjoyed His friendship; and He will continue to form new friendships as long as the world stands. Hence He knows how to treat different types of friends.
IV. HAS PASSED THROUGH GREAT AFFLICTIONS. In such a world as this an angel would be an unsuitable friend; there would be no minor key in his feelings, for what has he ever known of sorrow. We want a friend "stricken of God and afflicted." Then we can tell each rising grief, knowing that He has felt it. In all points tempted as we are, and as Captain of our salvation made perfect through suffering, He has been wherever it must be our lot to go.
V. IS CONSTANT. "Having loved His own," etc., He never gave up one friend for another. Those whom He loves once He loves forever. Amid the changes of life, and when we cease to move the affections once felt for us, the Saviour will love us as He did when we were young.
VI. IS KIND.
1. He never reproaches or upbraids. Who has not been subdued by the delicate methods of a true friend? "His gentleness hath made me great."
2. We should have broken the heart of any other friend; but He is long suffering.
VII. IS ALWAYS WITH US. Some of our greatest trials are by separations. We land among strangers, but Christ is at our side.
VIII. CAN DO FOR US WHAT NO OTHER FRIEND CAN.
1. When the wisdom of friends fail He is the Wonderful, Counsellor.
2. When our friends are dead He abides.
3. When friends are impotent, as at the hour of death and in the day of judgment, He is the hope of glory.
IX. IS EVER ACCESSIBLE. If we called on our best earthly friend as often as we call on Christ, he could not endure it. When we have stated our case to our friend we have to leave it; Christ permits us to state it over and over again. Conclusion:
1. Whoever may love us we cannot be truly happy with out the friendship of Christ.
2. We should be such friends to others as Christ is to us.
3. The greatest sin, which is not unpardonable, is ingratitude to Christ.
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