Excerpt from the Commentary on the Raising of Lazarus by St. John Chrysostom (John 11)
“Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me; and I knew that Thou hearest Me always, but because of the people which stand by, I said it.” And what follows.
[1.] What I have often said, I will now say, that Christ looketh not so much to His own honor as to our salvation; not how He may utter some sublime saying, but how something able to draw us to Him. On which account His sublime and mighty sayings are few, and those also hidden, but the humble and lowly are many, and abound through His discourses. For since by these men were the rather brought over, in these He continueth; and He doth not on the one hand utter these universally, lest the men that should come after should receive damage, nor, on the other hand, doth He entirely withhold those, lest the men of that time should be offended. Since they who have passed from lowmindedness unto perfection, will be able from even a single sublime doctrine to discern the whole, but those who were ever lowminded, unless they had often heard these lowly sayings, would not have come to Him at all. In fact, even after so many such sayings they do not remain firm, but even stone and persecute Him, and try to kill Him, and call Him blasphemer. And when He maketh Himself equal with God, they say, “This man blasphemeth” ( Matt. ix. 3 ); and when He saith, “Thy sins be forgiven thee” ( c. x. 20 ), they moreover call Him a demoniac. So when He saith that the man who heareth His words is stronger than death, or, “I am in the Father and the Father in Me” ( c. viii. 51 ), they leave Him; and again, they are offended when He saith that He came down from heaven. ( c. vi. 33, 60.) If now they could not bear these sayings, though seldom uttered, scarcely, had His discourse been always sublime, had it been of this texture, would they have given heed to Him? When therefore He saith, “As the Father commanded Me, so I speak” ( c. xiv. 31 ); and, “I am not come of Myself” ( c. vii. 28 ), then they believe. That they did believe then is clear, from the Evangelist signifying this besides, and saying, “As He spake these words, many believed on Him.” ( c. v. 30.) If then lowly speaking drew men to faith, and high speaking scared them away, must it not be a mark of extreme folly not to see at a glance how to reckon the sole reason of those lowly sayings, namely, that they were uttered because of the hearers. Since in another place when He had desired to say some high thing, He withheld it, adding this reason, and saying, “Lest we should offend them, cast a hook into the sea.” ( Matt. xvii. 27.) Which also He doth here; for after saying, “I know that Thou hearest Me always,” He addeth, “but because of the multitude which standeth around I said it, that they might believe.” Are these words ours? Is this a human conjecture? When then a man will not endure to be persuaded by what is written, that they were offended at sublime things, how, when he heareth Christ saying that He spake in a lowly manner that they might not be offended, how, after that, shall he suspect that the mean sayings belonged to His nature, not to His condescension? So in another place, when a voice came down from heaven, He said, “This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes.” ( c. xii. 30.) He who is exalted may be allowed to speak lowly things of himself, but it is not lawful for the humble to utter concerning himself anything grand or sublime. For the former ariseth from condescension, and has for its cause the weakness of the hearers; or rather (it has for its cause) the leading them to humblemindedness, and His being clothed in flesh, and the teaching the hearers to say nothing great concerning themselves, and His being deemed an enemy of God, and not being believed to have come from God, His being suspected of breaking the Law, and the fact that the hearers looked on Him with an evil eye, and were ill disposed towards Him, because He said that He was equal to God. But that a lowly man should say any great thing of Himself, hath no cause either reasonable or unreasonable; it can only be folly, impudence, and unpardonable boldness. Wherefore then doth Christ speak humbly, being of that ineffable and great Substance? For the reasons mentioned, and that He might not be deemed unbegotten; for Paul seems to have 235 feared some such thing as this; wherefore he saith, “Except Him who did put all things under Him.” ( 1 Cor. xv. 27.) This it is impious even to think of. Since if being less than Him who begat Him, and of a different Substance, He had been deemed equal, would He not have used every means that this might not be thought? But now He doth the contrary, saying, “If I do not the works of Him that sent Me, believe Me not.” ( c. x. 37.) Indeed His saying, that “I am in the Father and the Father in Me” ( c. xiv. 10 ), intimateth to us the equality. It would have behooved, if He had been inferior, to refute this opinion with much vehemence, and not at all to have said, “I am in the Father and the Father in me” ( c. x. 30 ), or that, “We are One,” or that, “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father.” ( c. xiv. 9.) Thus also, when His discourse was concerning power, He said, “I and the Father are One”; and when His discourse was concerning authority, He said again, “For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He wilt” ( c. v. 21 ); which it would be impossible that He should do were He of a different substance; or even allowing that it were possible, yet it would not have behooved to say this, lest they should suspect that the substance was one and the same. Since if in order that they may not suppose Him to be an enemy of God, He often even uttereth words unsuited to Him, much more should He then have done so; but now, His saying, “That they should honor the Son even as they honor the Father” ( c. v. 23 ); His saying, “The works which He doeth, I do also” ( c. v. 19 ); His saying that He is “the Resurrection, and the Life, and the Light of the world” ( c. xi. 25; c. viii. 12 ), are the expressions of One making Himself equal to Him who begat Him, and confirming the suspicion which they entertained. Seest thou how He maketh this speech and defense, to show that He broke not the Law, and that He not only doth not remove, but even confirmeth the opinion of His equality with the Father? So also when they said, “Thou blasphemest, because thou makest thyself God” ( c. x. 33 ), from equality of works He established this thing.
Seest thou His freedom from boastfulness? He doth not lead him on, nor bid him go about1814 with Him, lest He should seem to any to be showing him; so well knew He how to observe moderation.
(Note: hosted by a non-Orthodox site: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf114.iv.lxvi.html)