Why Jesus Wept at the Grave of Lazarus

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BY THE REV. DAVID SMITH, M.A., D.D. Professor of Theology in Magee College, Londonderry Jesus wept. St. John xi. 35.
  WHY JESUS WEPT AT THE GRAVE OF LAZARUSBY THE REV. DAVID SMITH, M.A., D.D.Professor of Theology in Magee College, LondonderryJesus wept. St. John xi. 35.This is the shortest verse in the Bible, at allevents in our English Version, and it is one of the most familiar and most affecting ; but haveyou ever noticed what a problem it presents?Why did Jesus weep? It is no wonder thatMartha and Mary and the friends who had cometo comfort them concerning their brother, shouldweep as they stood beside his grave; but whyshould Jesus share their sorrow and mingle Histears with theirs? He knew what He had comethither to do. He had come to dry the tears of the mourners and fill their hearts with gladnessby bringing their dear dead back to life. Whythen should He weep, knowing what wouldpresently come to pass?And, moreover, had He not been teachingMan s eBd of 9\od. 81 782 WHY JESUS WEPTHis disciples all those years of His sojourningwith them that there was nothing in death whichshould affright them? He had told themwonderful and beautiful things such as the worldhad never heard from the lips of its wise men,  though they had said much about death that wasbrave and, in a manner, helpful. Far back asage of Greece had spoken a dark word oftenrepeated in succeeding generations — a wordwhich betrayed the sadness that lurked in theheart of that bright land of laughter. ** Thebest lot by far, he said, is never to havebeen born, and the next best to die as soonas may be.** He meant that life is at the bestso sorrowful and painful that death is a happyrelease. To the Epicurean poet life was sweet,but he counted it folly to dread death, sincedeath is extinction and there will be no sufferingand no regret in the grave. And it was one of the commonplaces of Stoicism in later days thatdeath is a law of ature, a tribute which mortalsmust pay and which should be paid cheerfully — a sentiment which a modern philosopher hasechoed, assuring us that ** death cannot be anevil, since it is universal. Such are some of the consolations of AT THE GRAVE OF LAZARUS 83philosophy, and it may be doubted if they haveever dried a tear or cheered a single mourner inhis hour of desolation. Jesus has spoken afteranother manner. He has opened the veil anddisclosed the bright world toward which Hispeople are travelling. He has revealed a newmeaning in life, and has told us that, for allwho put their trust in Him, death is the perfect-ing of life and the lifting of it to its highestpotency. You recollect two figures under whichHe spoke of it. He called it a going home.** Let not your heart be troubled. In MyFather's House are many mansions : I go to  prepare a place for you. And if I go andprepare a place for you, I will come again andreceive you unto Myself, that where I am, thereye may be also. And He called it a fallingasleep, and there is no terror here ; for sleepis sweet, and waking is glad. Though lang the nicht may seem,We shall sleep withoot a dreamTill we wauken on yon bricht Sabbath mornin'. Why then did Jesus weep at the grave of Lazarus? Was it simply because His compas-sion was so quick and tender that He was84 WHY JESUS WEPTtouched even by unreasonable sorrow? Youknow how a mother feels when her child awakesand sobs in the darkness. She does not scoldhim and tell him that there is nothing to beafraid of and he is fooHsh to weep. o, shetakes the little thing in her arms and fondleshim and soothes his alarm, and there are tearsin her own eyes too. And the heart of Jesusis kinder than a mother's. Can a womanforget her sucking child, that she should nothave compassion on the son of her womb? Yea,these may forget, yet will not I forget thee. He knows our weakness and ignorance ; Hepities our childishness ; He is touched by ourvain alarms, our unreasonable sorrows, ourimaginary distresses.It may be so, but there is a deeper reason forthose tears of Jesus, and I shall try in whatremains to set it before you. It is not my  own idea. I Owe it to a Greek saint and scholarof the fifth century, who is little known andwhose very name perhaps you have never heard.It was Isidore. He was born at Alexandria andwas a pupil, it is said, of the celebrated St.Chrysostom. His was not the sort of life thatmakes a stir in the world or bulks large in theAT THE GEAVE OF LAZARUS 85eyes of men. He was no ecclesiastical states-man, no eloquent preacher, but a gentle andgracious man of God who loved study and shrank from noise and strife ; and, after the fashion of his age, he had left the world and retired to amonastery near Pelusium, a town at the easternmouth of the Delta of the River ile. Andthere he passed his sweet days in prayer andmeditation. In the providence of God he wasentrusted with an office of rich beneficence. Hehad not only a furnished intellect but a sympa-thetic nature. He knew the mind of God andunderstood the human heart, and troubled soulsturned to him and told him their perplexities.His fame as a spiritual counsellor spread abroad,and people would write to him from far and nearabout all manner of things — the conduct of theiraffairs, the interpretation of difficult passagesof Holy Scripture, and the deep problems of life and destiny. And he spent his days inanswering these.A collection of his letters has survived, num-bering over two thousand and containing manyprecious and beautiful things. One is from acorrespondent Theodosius the Presbyter, andit propounds this very question which we are
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