So That The Son of God Might Be Glorified By It
John 11:1-4 MKJV And there was a certain sick one, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (2) (And it was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) (3) Then his sisters sent to Him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick. (4) When Jesus heard, He said, This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God might be glorified by it.
The family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus dwelt in Bethany and were close friends of Jesus. They seemed to often give Him hospitality and Mary had anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. They seem to be poor - because they had no servants and Martha had to do all the work herself on one occasion. The perfume Mary used must have been their most expensive possession.
Now their brother was sick and they called on Jesus. They were not above a little persuasion and sent a message saying: “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” Now, as we saw yesterday, Jesus is some distance away in the wilderness on the other side of the Jordan
Jesus gives what seems to be a hopeful response: “This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God might be glorified by it.” But Lazarus does die – and a few days later rises again! There is death, grief, suffering and pain – and yet it all turns out “for the glory of God”.
The glory of God is often “on the other side of pain”. David becomes king – after 14 years of living in caves and being chased by King Saul. Israel enters the Promised Land –after 40 years in the wilderness, and Israel returns from exile – after 70 years in Babylon.
It is always the final outcome that really matters. God does not promise us constant personal comfort, but He does promise good and glorious final outcomes. It s better to be on an uncomfortable raft that makes land than to be on the very comfortable Titanic, which sinks!
As with the man born blind two chapters before this sickness was “for the glory of God” and even Lazarus’ death was “for the glory of God”. It seems that God is making us suffer so He can be glorified! Yet not only is He glorified, but we are glorified also! Lazarus, Job and the man born blind will be remembered as long as the earth endures.
Suffering and glory and closely connected in the NT, in fact there are so many I have had to select just a few:
Romans 8:17-18 MKJV And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together. (18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed in us.
Colossians 1:11 MKJV being empowered with all power, according to the might of His glory, to all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness,
1 Peter 5:1 MKJV I exhort the elders who are among you, I being also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.
Sickness, death, and tough circumstances can all work for BOTH God’s glory and your glory. Romans 8:28 MKJV And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
At the time, there may seem to be no point and no glory in the suffering. It may seem unreasonable, unjust and unfair, but God is far bigger than that situation and will redeem it. God redeemed the death of Lazarus, the suffering of Job and the crucifixion of Jesus. As Corrie Ten boom said after many years in German concentration camps during WW2 – “No matter how deep the suffering, God’s love is deeper still”
It is easier for us because we know the glorious ending of the Lazarus story as Jesus booms out “Lazarus come forth” and he stagers out of the tomb, still wrapped in grave clothes. If we know the end will be good, then any suffering becomes endurable.
Thus we should always have hope, we should always believe that God will be glorified by it and that we will be glorified by it, as God works all things together for good. God is not trifling with your life, just so He can show off His powers. You will also be blessed, and blessed mightily. For God is not unjust in any way.
As Christians we need to know that “through many tribulations you will enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22) and be prepared to live in the light of the cross:
Magic is focused on manipulating the spirit world to achieve earthly prosperity. Christianity does not go down that route! Christians take up their cross in this life, so that they may be glorified in eternity. Christians are willing for God to get glory from their sickness, and even from their death. Let me quickly add that Christians do not seek to be sick or dead, or penniless or ashamed, but the true Christian knows that God is able to work good out of even the worst of circumstances. Out of great personal tragedy the hymn “It is well with my soul” was written. Yes, it is so “that the Son of God might be glorified in it” that we live and minister.