When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
At what and with whom was Jesus indignant? The notion of some Greek expositors that it was with Himself — that we have here the indications of an inward struggle to repress, as something weak and unworthy, that human pity, which found presently its utterance in tears — cannot be accepted for an instant. Christianity demands the regulation of the natural affections, but it does not, like stoicism, demand their suppression; so far from this it bids us "weep with them that weep" and "seek not altogether to dry the stream of sorrow, but to bound it and keep it within its banks." Some suppose Him indignant in spirit at the hostile dispositions of the Jews and the unbelief with which this signal work of His would be received. Others, that His indignation was excited by the unbelief of Martha and Mary and the others, which they manifested in their weeping, testifying that they did not believe that He would raise their dead. But He Himself wept presently, and there was nothing in these natural tears of theirs to rouse a feeling of displeasure. Rather was it the indignation which the Lord of Life felt at all that sin had wrought. He beheld death in all its dread significance, as the wages of sin; the woes of a whole world, of which this was a little sample, rose up before His eyes: all its mourners and all its graves were present to Him. For that He was about to wipe away the tears of those present and turn for a little while their sorrow into joy, did not truly alter the case. Lazarus rose again, but only to taste a second time the bitterness of death; these mourners He might comfort, but only for a season; these tears he might staunch, only again hereafter to flow; and how many had flowed and must flow with no such Comforter to wipe them even for a season away. As He contemplated all this, a mighty indignation at the author of all this anguish possessed His heart. And now he will no longer delay, but will do at once battle with death and with Him that hath the power of death; and spoiling though but in part the goods of the strong man armed, will give proof that a stronger is here.
He was troubled, rather "troubled Himself," for a certain Divine decorum tempers all we read of Him, and He is not represented to us as possessing a nature to be played upon by passive emotions. Why? We cannot fully tell. Perhaps, we may conceive the case of a physician coming into a room, where friends and children are sobbing over one whom they supposed to be doomed, himself weeping in sympathy though sure that he can heal. But at least this shows us that we have a real Christ. It was never invented. The imaginary Christ would have walked majestically up the slope of the Mount of Olives, and, standing with a halo of the sunset around his brow, have bidden the dead to rise. The real Christ was a dusty and wayworn man, who wept over the grave, and lifted up His eyes. The reality teaches us that the dead are not raised by a stoic philosopher, with an eye of ice and a heart of marble, but by One who is very Man with the tender weakness that is more beautiful than all our strength. His is more majestic as well as more moving. But could St. John have invented it?
Parallel VersesKJV: When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,