That the Son of God May be Glorified Through It

March 2020

Upon hearing the message from Mary and Martha that Lazarus, their brother, was sick, Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4). Jesus was in Bethabara (John 10:40), a day’s journey from Bethany where Lazarus was. Instead of coming immediately to pray for Lazarus, Jesus and His disciples stayed in Bethabara another two days (John 11:6) before leaving for Bethany. Lazarus’ sickness was so bad that he died the same day the messengers were sent for Jesus to come. By the time Jesus finally arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days.

From a natural perspective, Jesus’ four-day late arrival caused a flurry of questions. He should have come immediately. He could have saved Lazarus’ life if only He had come earlier. This is why both Mary and Martha said to Jesus when He arrived, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (11:21, 32). Not only were Mary and Martha troubled about Jesus’ timing, but His disciples were confused about the purpose of the journey to see Lazarus. Jesus had told them that Lazarus was only sleeping (11:11), and then He told them that Lazarus had died (11:14). To make things worse, Lazarus was in Judea, the place where the religious leaders wanted to stone Jesus (11:8). Why go if Lazarus was only sleeping? Why go if he was already dead? Why go to a place where persecution was likely to happen? Why show up four days late as if everything was completely fine? Even the crowd that had gathered at Lazarus’ tomb was perplexed: “Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?” (11:37). Confusion, fear, anger, doubt, heartbreak, and sorrow were all the things that Jesus could have stopped if only He had been there on time. Again, that is from a natural perspective.

Remember Jesus’ words from the very beginning, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4). When Jesus said this sickness was not unto death, He was not meaning that Lazarus would not die, but that his death would not be final. Lazarus was in the tomb for four days, and his dead body was already stinking, but it was not final. When Jesus is invited to come and meet a need, the situation that looks dead is never over. His timing is perfect. Why would He arrive late, knowing that it would cause death, heartbreak, confusion, etc.? Jesus’ answer to that question was that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Does He allow the same type of things to happen today? The answer is simple, yes/em>. There are times in our lives in which God allows life to hit us hard. He allows the attack of the enemy. He delays the fulfillment of His promise. He does not meet the need immediately upon request. From a natural perspective, it appears the time of need is over because the situation appears to be dead. It looks as if there is no way that Jesus can be glorified in the situation. Possibly, that is what you are thinking right now. Believer, because you have invited Jesus to come and meet your need, it is not over. Jesus is able and willing to raise the dead back to life.

In this event, Jesus was not oblivious to the needs of the ones He loved (11:3, 5, 36). He felt the painful sorrow of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ friends who had gathered to weep at his tomb. That is why “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Then the Jews said, “Behold how He loved him!” (11:36). Believer, Jesus understands what you are going through. He sympathizes with your full range of feelings. Hebrews 4:15-16 states, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (weaknesses); but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Again, as Jesus allowed all of the heartbreak of death for a divine purpose, He also allows setbacks in our lives. As it is sometimes stated, “God allows the setback as a setup for your blessing.” When we trust Him, the setbacks are setups for Jesus to be glorified. When He is glorified, it always means He has a blessing for us. Jesus told Martha, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (11:40). He wants us to trust Him in spite of what has happened.

Finally, Jesus went to the tomb where Lazarus had been laid and, “He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth’” (11:43). John concludes the true story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11:44: “And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, ‘Loose him, and let him go.’”


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