Tuesday, November 03, 2009

ἐμβριμάομαι

In reading the story of Lazarus, we find an interesting word. The word is found in John chapter 11, verse 33, and stood out to me this past Sunday. According to the NRSV, the word is translated "enebrimhsato", which means Jesus "was deeply moved".

It stood out to me, simply as an example of Jesus feeling an emotion. Not just any emotion, one strong enough to be "deeply moved", using a word hardly used anywhere else in the New Testament. Most of the time, when these words are pointed out, it's someone extending the illustration of how much Jesus must have loved Lazarus, etc.

I like that side of the coin. Obviously Jesus cared about Lazarus, and these women knew there was a relationship between them. There is a great illustration here of Jesus Christ being human, and experiencing a life such as ours.

But it also seems like there is a frustration/emotion here that focuses on the lack of faith in the Jews he was close to in these scenes. The word here meaning "was deeply moved" comes from a root word "brimaomai" which means "to snort with anger". This was not a sadness for the loss of his friend, this was a frustration with the unbelief of those who should be the first to believe.

This understanding, however, would also change the meaning of the verses that follow. "Jesus wept." would be another sign of his immense sadness for the unbelief of those closest to him. "See how he loved him." would be the Jews continuing to miss the reason for Jesus' sadness, blind to their own unbelief and the grief it caused Jesus.

Which opens up yet another new word that can come from this story. That we followers of Christ are quick to point out things that may grieve the Spirit of Christ, as long as it's something other than ourselves. May we each spend some time reflecting on what in our own life may be the "unbelief" that could cause Christ to "snort with anger", and shed tears on our behalf....

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