“Jesus wept.” — John xi. 35
A GREAT storm was stirring the mind of Jesus. We find, on looking at the original, that he was indignant and troubled. We have a very literal translation in the margin of the Revised Version; and instead of reading, “He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,” we find it, “He was moved with indignation in the spirit, and troubled himself.” What was this indignation? We cannot think that it was caused by the unbelief of his friends, or even by the pretended sympathy of those malicious Jews who hastened to accuse him to the Pharisees; but we look further and deeper for the reason of this heat. He now stood face to face with the last enemy, death. He saw what sin had done in destroying life, and even in corrupting the fair handiwork of God in the human body; he marked, also, the share which Satan had in all this, and his indignation was aroused; yea, his whole nature was stirred. Some read it, “He roused himself,” instead of reading, as we have it in our version, “He was troubled.” Certainly, there would seem to be an active sense in the expression: it was not so much that he was troubled, as that “He troubled himself.” The waters of his soul were clear as crystal, and therefore when troubled they were not mudded; yet they were all stirred. It could be seen that his holy nature was in a ferment, and an inarticulate expression of distress fell from him. Between indignation at the powers of evil, grief for the family who had been bereaved by death, sorrow over those who stood by in unbelief, and a distressing realization of the effects of sin, the Lord’s heart was evidently in a great storm. Instead of the thunder of threatening, and the lightning of a curse, all that was perceptible of the inward tempest was a shower of tears; for “Jesus wept.” A hurricane rushed through his spirit; all the forces of his soul were disturbed; he shuddered at the sight which was about to be set before him; he was thrilled from head to foot with emotion; yet the result of the storm was not a word of terror, nor a glance of judgment, but simply a blessed shower of tears: “Jesus wept.” If all our righteous indignation displayed itself in tears of pity, we should have fulfilled the text, “Be ye angry, and sin not.”
“Jesus wept.” I have often felt vexed with the man, whoever he was, who chopped up the New Testament into verses. He seems to have let the hatchet drop indiscriminately here and there; but I forgive him a great deal of blundering for his wisdom in letting these two words make a verse by themselves: “Jesus wept.” This is a diamond of the first water, and it cannot have another gem set with it, for it is unique. Shortest of verses in words, but where is there a longer one in sense? Add a word to the verse, and it would be out of place. No, let it stand in solitary sublimity and simplicity. You may even put a note of exclamation after it, and let it stand in capitals,
There is infinitely more in these two words than any sermonizer, or student of the Word, will ever be able to bring out of them, even though he should apply the microscope of the most attentive consideration. “Jesus wept.” Instructive fact; simple but amazing; full of consolation; worthy of our earnest heed. Come, Holy Spirit, and help us to discover for ourselves the wealth of meaning contained in these two words!
We read of other men that they wept. Abraham, when he buried Sarah, wept; Jacob had power with the angel, for he wept and prevailed; of David we are continually reading that he wept. His friend Jonathan and he once wept together, and were not unmanned, but were the more truly men for weeping. Of Hezekiah we read that he wept sore, and of Josiah that he poured forth tears over the sins of Judah. Jeremiah was a weeping prophet; and I might continue the list, but if I did, it would not be at all remarkable that the sons of a fallen father should weep. With all the sin and sorrow that surrounds our manhood, it is no marvel that it should be said of any man, “He wept.” The earth brings forth thorns and thistles, and the heart brings forth sorrow and sighing. Is there a man or woman here who has not wept? Have we not all, sometimes, felt a sweet relief in tears? Looking round upon this great assembly, I could point to you, one by one, and say, “He wept, and he wept; and she wept, and she wept”; and none would wonder that such has been the case. The marvel is that the sinless Son of God should, in the days of his flesh, know the meaning of strong crying and tears. The fact worthy to be noticed and recorded is that “Jesus wept.” On that subject we shall meditate this morning; and may the Lord make our thoughts profitable!
First, I would remind you that “Jesus wept,” because he was truly man: secondly, “Jesus wept,” for he was not ashamed of his human weak - ness, but allowed himself to reveal the fact that he was, in this point also, made like unto his brethren. Thirdly, “Jesus wept,” and therein he is our instructor. Fourthly, he is our comforter; and lastly, he is our example. We can only give a little space to each of these five things.
I. First, “Jesus wept,” for HE IS TRULY MAN. Many facts prove the completeness of our Lord’s taking up of our nature. Not in phantasm, nor in fiction was Jesus a man; but in reality and truth he became one of us. He was born of a woman, wrapped in swaddling bands, fed from the breast. He grew as a child, was obedient to his parents, and increased in stature and in wisdom. In manhood he worked, he walked, he wearied. He ate as we do: we find it mentioned that he fasted, and that he hungered. After his resurrection he ate a piece of a broiled fish, and of a honeycomb, to show that his body was real. His human nature was sustained, as ours is, by supplying it with food. Though on one occasion, sustained by divine power, he fasted forty days and forty nights, yet as man he ordinarily needed food. He drank also, and gave thanks both for food and drink. We find him sleeping with his head upon a pillow, and resting upon the curb of the well of Sychar. He suffered all the innocent infirmities of our nature. He was an hungered, and was disappointed when, early in the morning, he came to a fig-tree seeking fruit, but found none. He was weary: “Jesus, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well.” That he thirsted we know, for he said to the Samaritan woman, “Give me to drink”; and on the cross he cried in burning fever, “I thirst!” In all things he was made like unto his brethren. “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” His humanity was our humanity to the full, although without sin. Sin is not essential to humanity: it is a disease of nature; it is not a feature found in humanity as it came from the Creator’s hand. The Man of men, in whom all true humanity is found in perfection, is Christ Jesus.
The fact that Jesus wept is a clear proof of this. He wept, for he had human friendships. Friendship is natural to man. Scarcely is he a man who never had a friend to love. Men in going through the world make many acquaintances, but out of these they have few special objects of esteem, whom they call friends. If they think to have many friends, they are, probably, misusing the name. All wise and good men have about them choice spirits, with whom their intercourse is more free, and in whom their trust is more confident than in all others. Jesus delighted to find retirement in the quiet home at Bethany; and we read that “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” Alas, my brethren! every friendship opens a fresh door for grief; for friends are no more immortal than ourselves. “Jesus wept” at the grave of his friend just as you and I have done, and must needs do again. Behold your Lord, like David weeping for his Jonathan, and see how human he is in his friendships.
“Jesus wept,” for he was truly human in his sympathies. He did not merely walk about among us, and look like a man, but at a thousand points he came into contact with us. Jesus was always in touch with sorrow; happy are they that are in touch with him! Our Lord saw Mary and Martha weeping, and the Jews weeping that were with her, and he caught the contagion of their grief: “Jesus wept.” His sympathies were with sorrowing ones, and for this reason, among others, he was himself “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” He loved first his Father in heaven, whose glory was his main object; but he loved intensely his chosen, and his sympathy with them knew no bounds. “In all their afflictions he was afflicted.” Jesus was far more tender towards humanity than any other man has ever been. He was the great Philanthropist. Alas! man is often the cruellest foe of man. None more unkind to man than men. Not the elements in their fury, nor wild beasts in their rage, nor diseases in their terror, have made such havoc among men as men drunk with the war spirit. When has there been such cruel hate on the part of the most savage monster towards man as has raged in the hearts of bloodthirsty warriors? To this hate our Lord was a perfect stranger. There was no flint in his heart. He was love, and only love; and through his love he descended into the depths of grief with the beloved ones whose lot was sorrowful; and he carried out to the full that sacred precept, “Weep with them that weep.” Jesus was no unsuffering seraph, no cherub incapable of grief, but he was bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh; and therefore “Jesus wept.”
He was a man, dear friends, for he was stirred with human emotions. Every emotion that ever thrilled through your bosom, so far as it is not sinful, has had its like in the bosom of the Lord Jesus Christ. He could be angry: we read in one place that “he looked round about on them with anger.” He could be pitiful; when was he not so? He could be moved with compassion for a fainting crowd, or with scorn of a crafty ruler. Did he not speak with great indignation of the scribes and Pharisees? Yet, was he not tender as a nurse with a child, when cheering the penitent? He would not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax; yet he uttered faithful warnings, and made terrible exposures of hypocrisy. Our Saviour, at the moment described in our text, felt indignation, pity, love, desire, and other emotions. He who is all bowels of tenderness, was stirred from head to foot. He was troubled, and he troubled himself. As when water is shaken in a phial, so was his whole nature shaken with a mighty emotion, as he stood at the grave of Lazarus, confronting death and him that hath the power of it. Our Lord proved himself a man when it was said that “Jesus wept.”
Note, too, that his pure body and his sinless soul were originally constituted as ours are. When his body was formed according to that Scripture, “A body hast thou prepared me,” that holy thing had in it the full apparatus of grief: the lachrymal gland was in his eye. Where there is no sin, one would say there should be no sorrow; but in the formation of that blessed body, all the arrangements for the expression of grief were as fully prepared as in the case of any one of us. His eyes were made to be fountains of tears, even as are ours. He had about his soul also all the capacity for mental grief. As I said aforetime, so say I yet again, it would seem that there should be no tears where there are no transgressions; and yet the Saviour’s heart was made to hold sorrow, even as an amphora was made for wine. Yea, more, his heart was made capacious enough to be a reservoir wherein should be gathered up great floods of grief. See how the sorrow bursts forth in a mighty flood! Mark the record of that flood in these amazing words, “Jesus wept.”
Beloved, have a clear faith in the humanity of him whom you rightly worship as your Lord and your God. Holding his divinity without doubt, hold his manhood without mistake. Realize the actual manhood Note, too, that his pure body and his sinless soul were originally constituted as ours are. When his body was formed according to that Scripture, “A body hast thou prepared me,” that holy thing had in it the full apparatus of grief: the lachrymal gland was in his eye. Where there is no sin, one would say there should be no sorrow; but in the formation of that blessed body, all the arrangements for the expression of grief were as fully prepared as in the case of any one of us. His eyes were made to be fountains of tears, even as are ours. He had about his soul also all the capacity for mental grief. As I said aforetime, so say I yet again, it would seem that there should be no tears where there are no transgressions; and yet the Saviour’s heart was made to hold sorrow, even as an amphora was made for wine. Yea, more, his heart was made capacious enough to be a reservoir wherein should be gathered up great floods of grief. See how the sorrow bursts forth in a mighty flood! Mark the record of that flood in these amazing words, “Jesus wept.”
II. Now, let us change the line of our thought a little, while we say, “Jesus wept,” that is, HE WAS NOT ASHAMED OF HIS HUMAN WEAKNESS. He could have repressed his tears— many men do so habitually. I do not doubt that there may be great sorrow, very great sorrow, where there is no open expression of it. In fact, most of you must have felt times when grief has struck you such a stunning blow that you could not weep, you could not recover yourself sufficiently to shed tears: the heart was all on fire with anguish, and the eyes refused the cooling drops. The Saviour could doubtless, if so he wished, have hidden his grief; but he did not choose to do so, for he was never unnatural. As “the holy child Jesus,” he was free from pride, and wore his heart where men could see it.
For, first, remember his talk when he spoke to his disciples. He never concealed his poverty. There is an idea abroad that respectability is maintained by the pretence of riches, whereby real need is hidden. It is thought disreputable to seem to be poor, even when you are so. There may be something in the affectation, but our Lord did not countenance such a course; for he said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, and he was never ashamed to let it be known that he was poor. So, too, he was “despised and rejected of men,” and he did not pretend to be unaware of it. He did not try to make out that he was exceedingly popular, and that nobody had a word to say against him; but he owned that they had called the Master of the house Beelzebub. He knew what they had called him, and he was not ashamed of being made the butt of ridicule and the target of reproach. When they ascribed his miracles to the power of Satan he met the charges with an overwhelming reply; but he was not ashamed that slander had befallen him as well as poverty. As for his sufferings and death, how frequently do we find him talking to his disciples about it, till Peter would have stopped him if he could! Our Lord spoke of his being betrayed into the hand of sinners, and despitefully entreated, and spat upon. He spoke openly of his being “lifted up.” He even dwelt upon the minute items of his coming passion: he had no wish to deny the fate which he knew awaited him. Why not die, and say nothing about it, if so it must be? Not so the Saviour. He has become a man, and he is not abashed at that which necessarily follows as a part of his humiliation. Being found in fashion as a man he becomes obedient to all that is required of his manhood, and before all observers he takes his place in the ranks. “Jesus wept.”
Jesus wept on this occasion, although it might have been misunderstood and misrepresented. Do you not think that the Jews who stood there would sneeringly say, “See, he weeps! The miracle-worker weeps! He calls himself the Son of God, and yet he stands weeping there like any ordinary man!” Here was opportunity for scorn at his manifest weakness, and even for blasphemy at the evident token of it; but our Lord did not act upon policy; he allowed his true feeling to be seen. He did not, like the Stoic, claim respect for his manhood by holding himself within himself, and refusing to let men see that he was of like feelings with them. No, “Jesus wept.” Tears may not be thought manly, but they are natural to man, and Jesus will not be unnatural. The enemies may say what they please, and even blaspheme both him and his God; but he will not act a part in the hope of silencing them. He acts the truth only, and weeps as his kind heart suggests. He thinks more of Mary and of Martha, and the comfort his sympathy may yield them, than of the cavilling ribaldry of unbelievers, which may forge an excuse for itself out of the loving weakness of his humanity.
“Jesus wept,” and thereby he revealed his love to Lazarus, so that others saw it and cried, “Behold how he loved him!” This is one proof that our Lord does not hesitate to declare his love to his people. When he sojourned upon earth he was not ashamed to find friends among ordinary mortals. Our glorious Lord, now that he is enthroned, “is not ashamed to call us brethren.” He is not ashamed to be written down in the same heavenly register as his poor people. His cheeks were bedewed with tears such as those which drop from our eyes, and by those tears all knew what manner of love he had towards his chosen. Blessed be his name! Many a great man might be willing to befriend a poor man with money, but not with tearful love; but here the blessed Master, in the midst of the assembled multitude, owns dead and rotting Lazarus as his friend, and seals the covenant of his love with tears.
“Jesus wept”: he was not ashamed to own the affliction which sin caused to his holy soul, nor the gash which the sight of death made in his heart. He could not bear to see the grave and its corruption. May we never think of the sin and misery of our race without sorrow! I confess I can never go through this huge city without feeling unhappy. I never pass from end to end of London without feeling a black and dark cloud, hanging like a pall over my spirit. How my heart breaks for thee, O sinful city of London! Is it not so with you, my brethren? Think of its slums, its sins, its poverty, its ungodliness, its drunkenness, its vice! These may well go through a man’s heart like sharp swords. How Jesus would have wept in London! He could not stand in the front of a lone grave, about to look upon a single corpse, without weeping. He saw in that one death the representation of what sin has done on so enormous a scale, that it is impossible to compute the devastation; and therefore he wept. What hast thou not done, O Sin! Thou hast slain all these, O Death! What a field of blood has Satan made this earth! The Saviour could not stand unmoved in the presence of the Destroyer, nor approach the gate of death’s palace without deep emotion. Of this he was by no means ashamed; and therefore he did not hold back his tears: “Jesus wept.” Brethren, holy emotion is not a weakness to be ashamed of. If at any time, in the midst of the world’s wickedness and gaiety, you weep, do not hide those tears! Let the thoughtless see that there is one, at least, who fears God and trembles when the Holy One is provoked.
“Jesus wept,” though he was about to work a wonderful miracle. The glory of his Godhead did not make him ashamed of his manhood. Singular thing, too, that he should weep just before the joy of raising the dead to life. He is God, for he is about to call Lazarus out of the grave; but he is man just as much as ever, and therefore he weeps. Our Lord was as much man when he raised the dead as when he worked in the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth. He was not ashamed to own his real manhood while he proved himself the resurrection and the life. This day in the glory of heaven he wears his scars, to show that, though God, he is not ashamed to be recognized as man. He makes this one of his glorious names— “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore”; therein describing his connection with our manhood in life and in death. Beloved, “Jesus wept” to show that he did not disdain the feebleness of that nature which he had taken up, that he might redeem it unto God.
Remember, that our Lord Jesus exercised three years of ministry, and each year was signalized by a resurrection. He began by raising the little daughter of Jairus, upon whose unmarred countenance death had scarcely set his seal. Then he went on to raise the young man at the gates of Nain, who was being carried out to his burial, dead but not yet corrupt; and now he consummates his glory by raising this Lazarus, who had been dead four days already. Yet, when he came to this crowning marvel, and thus displayed the perfection of his Godhead, he did not disdain to stand before all and weep. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, yet “Jesus wept.”
III. Thirdly, OUR LORD JESUS IS OUR INSTRUCTOR IN WEEPING. This is the most practical part of our discourse; be sure that you receive it by the teaching of the Holy Ghost.
Observe why Jesus wept, and learn a lesson from it. He wept because this was his method of prayer on this occasion. A great miracle was to be wrought, and great power was needed from on high: as man, the Lord Jesus cries to God with intense earnestness, and finds the fittest embodiment for his prayer in weeping. No prayer will ever prevail with God more surely than a liquid petition, which, being distilled from the heart, trickles from the eye, and waters the cheek. Then is God won when he hears the voice of your weeping. The angel at Peniel will slip from your dry hands; but moisten them with tears, and you will hold him fast. Before the Lord Jesus puts forth the power which raises Lazarus from the grave, he appeals to God with strong crying and tears. The Father appears for his weeping Son; and you, dear friends, if you want to win in prayer, must weep in prayer. Let your soul arouse itself to eager desire, and trouble itself to anguish, and then you will prevail. “Jesus wept” to teach us how to baptize our prayers unto God in a wave of heart-grief.
“Jesus wept” again, because before he would arouse the dead he would be himself aroused. A word of his could have wrought the wonder; yea, his mere volition would have been enough. But for our instruction he did not make it so. There was a kind of evil which went not out but with prayer and fasting, and here was a kind of death which would not yield unless the Saviour groaned and wept. Without great exertion of the life of Jesus, the death in Lazarus could not be subdued. Therefore the Lord aroused himself, and stirred up all his strength, troubling all his being for the struggle on which he entered. Learn hence, my brother, that if you think to do any great good in saving sinners, you must not be half-asleep yourself: you must be troubled even to tears. Perhaps the most difficult thing in winning souls is to get ourselves into a fit state. The dead may bury the dead, but they cannot raise the dead. Until a man’s whole soul is moved, he will not move his fellow. He might, possibly, succeed with those who are willing to be impressed; but the careless will be unmoved by any man who is unmoved himself. Tears storm a passage for warnings. If Christ’s whole self must be stirred before Lazarus is raised, we must be thrilled before we can win a soul. The fingers of decay are unwinding the goodly fabric which once was worn by the soul of Lazarus, and no voice can effectually command them to pause but one, which sounds forth from a bursting heart. That “stinking,” of which Martha spoke, can only be turned into the sweet odours of grateful life by the salt tears of infinite love. It is still more so in our case. We must feel, if others are to feel. Come, my dear sister, you that are going to the Sunday-school class this afternoon, because you must go; you must not go in that spirit. You, my brothers, who are going to preach or talk to your classes, and have as yet only one eye open; this will never do. Your Lord was all alive, and all sensitive, and you must be the same. How can you expect to see his power exercised on others if you do not feel his emotion in yourselves? You must be quickened into tenderness as he was, or you will not receive his life-giving power. When I am weak, then am I strong. “Jesus wept” when he raised dead Lazarus.
Jesus wept in full knowledge of several things which might have prevented his weeping. You have sometimes thought to yourself when weeping at the grave of a dear child, or wife, or husband, that you have been wrong in so doing; but this may not be the case. Our Saviour wept, though he knew that Lazarus was safe enough. I do not know what had happened to the soul of Lazarus: where Scripture is silent it is not mine to speak; but, wherever he was, he was perfectly safe; and yet “Jesus wept.” Moreover, Jesus knew that he was going to raise Lazarus to life; his resurrection was close at hand; and yet “Jesus wept.” Sometimes we are told that if we really believed that our friends would rise again, and that they are safe and happy even now, we could not weep. Why not? Jesus did. There cannot be any error in following where Jesus leads the way. Jesus knew, moreover, that the death of Lazarus was for the glory of God: he had said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God”; and yet he wept! Have we not thought, “Surely it must be wicked to weep when you know that the bereavement will glorify God”? Not so, or else Jesus would not have wept under similar circumstances. Learn instruction: tears which else wo might have regarded as contraband have now free admission into the realm of holiness, since “Jesus wept.” Sister, you may weep, for Jesus wept. He wept, with full knowledge of the happiness of Lazarus, with full expectation of his resurrection, and with the firm assurance that God was glorified even by his death: we may not, therefore, condemn what Christ allows.
“Jesus wept” but he did not sin. There was not even a particle of evil in any one of the Redeemer’s tears. Salt there may have been, but not fault. Beloved, we can weep without sin. I do not suppose we have ever done so; but it is possible. It is not a sin to weep for those whom God has taken away from us, nor for those who are suffering. I will tell you why there was no sin in Christ’s weeping: it was because he wept in his Father' s presence. When he spoke in his sorrow, the first word was, “Father”: he said, “Father, I thank thee.” If you can weep in such a way that all the while you feel God to be your Father, and can thank him, and know that you are in his presence, your weeping is not blameworthy, but healthful. Let such floods flow on, for Jesus wept, and said, “Father, I thank thee.” Brethren, we sin when we either laugh or weep behind God’s back. Absence from God is the element of sin. When you cannot smile nor weep except by forgetting God and his law, then are you offending; but if you can get up to your great Father’s bosom, and bury your head there, you may sob away without stint; for that which he permits is evidently no offence. “Jesus wept,” but he never murmured. “Jesus wept,” but he never found fault with God’s dispensations. “Jesus wept” sweetly in submission, not bitterly in rebellion. I think this is good instruction here: may the Holy Spirit teach it to us! May the Lord write it on every weeper’s heart. Thou, Hannah, a woman of a sorrowful spirit, did Eli accuse thee? Come to Eli’s Master, the great High Priest; for he will not blame thee, but he will tell thee that thou mayest weep, for he also wept.
IV. I must be brief upon my fourth point. “Jesus wept”: IN THIS HE IS OUR COMFORTER.
Let me speak to those who are of heavy heart. “Jesus wept”: herein, is our honour. Thou weepest, my friend, in good company; for Jesus wept. Let no man censure thee lest they not only blame thee, but Jesus also.
“Jesus wept”: herein is our sonship vindicated. Thou sayest, “Can I be the child of God, and yet go weeping?” Was not Jesus the well-beloved Son? and yet he wept. Ah! the question lies another way: “What son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” What child did God ever have that did not weep? He had one Son without sin; but he never had a son without sorrow. He had a Son that never deserved a stroke of the rod, and yet against that Son the sword was awakened. Mourner, thou art one of “The Worshipful Company of Weepers,” of whom Jesus is the Worthy Master. He is at the head of the Clan of Mourners: thou mayest well wear the plaid with the black and red crosses upon it; for thy Chieftain wore the same.
See now the real sympathy of Christ with his people, for herein is comfort. His sympathy lies not alone in words, not even wholly in deeds — it is more tender than these can be. Only his heart could express his tender sympathy, and then it was by tears— tears which were brought up like gold from the ore-bed of the heart, minted in the eyes, and then put in circulation as current coin of the merchant, each one bearing the King’s image and superscription. Jesus is our fellow-sufferer; and this should be our greatest solace. Oh, if we had a High-priest that knew not what it is to suffer as we do, it would be a most unhappy thing for us! If we fled to him for refuge, and found that he had known no grief, and consequently could not understand us, it would be killing to a broken heart. I saw a young bird yesterday fly where he thought he saw ready entrance; but, alas for him! there was an invisible barrier; he dashed against the glass, and stunned himself, and I was sad when I saw him lie dead outside my window. If in my grief I fled to Jesus, and there was about him a secret inability to sympathize, an incapacity to admit me to his heart; pure as crystal though that barrier might be, I should dash myself against it, and die in despair. A Jesus who never wept could never wipe away my tears. That were a grief I could not bear, if he could not have fellowship with me, and could not understand my woe.
Beloved, think how bravely our Lord endured: herein is confidence. Tears did not drown the Saviour’s hope in God. He lived. He triumphed notwithstanding all his sorrow; and because he lives, we shall live also. He says, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Though our hero had to weep in the fight, yet he was not beaten. He came, he wept, he conquered. You and I take scot and lot with Jesus: we share the tears of his eyes, and we shall share the diamonds of his crown. Wear the thorn-crown here, and you shall wear the crown of glory hereafter.
Let this comfort you, too, that, though he wept, he weeps no more: herein is heaven begun below. “Death hath no more dominion over him” in any sense or degree. He has done with weeping. So shall it be with us before long. How I love that promise: “Neither shall there be any more pain”! Heaven is without a temple, for it is all devotion; and so is it without a hospital, for it is all health and love. “The inhabitant shall no more say, I am sick.” “Oh for the no more weeping!” It will come to us before long, for it has come to Jesus. “The Lord God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” We shall soon have no cause for sorrow, and no possibility of grief; for as he is, such shall we be; and as he is perfectly blessed, we shall be beatified in him. “Jesus wept”; but his weeping is all over. “Jesus wept”; but his sorrow is now a thing of the past, and so shall ours be ere long.
V. Fifthly, and lastly, “Jesus wept”: IN THIS HE IS OUR EXAMPLE. We should weep, for Jesus wept. Jesus wept for others. I know not that he ever wept for himself. His were sympathetic tears. He embodied that command, “Weep with them that weep.” He has a narrow soul who can hold it all within the compass of his ribs. A true soul, a Christly soul, lives in other men’s souls and bodies as well as in its own. A perfectly Christly soul finds all the world too narrow for its abode, for it lives and loves; it lives by loving, and loves because it lives. Think of other weepers, and have pity upon the children of grief. To-day I want to touch your heart-strings, and move you to pity the pains, the agonies, of the many now lying within the wards of our hospitals, and the even greater miseries of those who pine for want of medicine and care, because they cannot get into the hospitals, but have to wear themselves out in hopeless disease. How must those suffer who have bad nursing and little food, and in the winter are pinched with cold! You and I may never suffer as they do, but at least let us grieve on their account, and stand ready to succour them to the best of our ability.
In another matter our Lord is our example; learn from him that our indignation against evil will best show itself in compassion for sinners. Ah, my dear friend! I heard you declaiming tremendously against drunkenness. I am glad to hear you: you cannot say anything too hard or too heavy about that degrading vice; but, I pray you, wind up your denunciation with weeping over the poor drunkard. I heard you speak, my other friend, on behalf of the League of Purity, and you smote the monsters of lasciviousness with all your force. I wish more strength to your arm! But when you have done, sit down and weep, that such filthiness should defile men and women, who are your fellow-creatures. Appeal to Parliament, if you wish, for the putting down of vice; but Parliament itself first needs correcting and purifying. A flood of tears before the thrice Holy God will do far more than the hugest rolls of petition to our senators. “Jesus wept”; and his tears were mighty weapons against sin and death. You feel indignant at the lazy, idle, loafing vagabonds whose very illness is produced by their own vice: I cannot condemn your virtuous wrath. But if you would in all things imitate Jesus, please note that it is not written that Jesus thundered, but that “Jesus wept.” Let indignation have pity mixed with it. I like not lightning without rain, nor indignation without tears. I know what you will say about the lack of thrift among the poor, about the absence of sobriety, the want of industry, and so forth. Admit all this sorrowfully; chide it tenderly; and then weep. You will do more good to the offenders, and more good to yourself, and more good to the best of causes, if pity moistens all. You may, if you will, beat the terrible drum, and sound the war-trumpet; but the noise will rather deafen than soften. The voice of your weeping will be heard deep down in the soul, and work more wonders than thunders of denunciation.
Lastly, when you have wept, imitate your Saviour— do something! If the chapter before us had finished with “Jesus wept,” it would have been a poor one. Suppose, after they had come to the grave, we had read “Jesus wept, and went about his daily business,” I should have felt small comfort in the passage. If nothing had come of it but tears, it would have been a great falling off from the usual ways of our blessed Lord. Tears! what are they alone? Salt water. A cup of them would be of little worth to anybody. But, beloved, “Jesus wept,” and then he commanded, “Roll away the stone.” He cried, “Lazarus, come forth”! When Lazarus struggled out of the tomb, Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go.” Some of you are full of pity for the sick; but I hope we shall not end in mere sentiment. Do not let us say, “We were moved to sympathize with the sick, but we gave an awfully bad collection!” I should be ashamed to think of this morning’s meditation if it ended so. No, no; if you cannot raise the dead, give something towards rolling away the stone which shuts the poor out of the hospital; if you cannot restore them to health, at least do something towards removing their maladies. Loose them from this crowded city, and send them into the country to a Convalescent Home. Brethren, we can thus practically prove the truth of our sympathy; therefore, pass the boxes round!