Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it He said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are You going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
After saying these things, He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to His fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Now when Jesus came, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to Him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met Him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled.
And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
But some of them said, “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that You sent Me.” When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what He did, believed in Him. (John 11:1-45, ESV)
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The stories of the miracles Jesus performed sometimes get overlooked because of our basic knowledge of God. Of course He healed them. Of course He fed the hungry. And of course He raised Lazarus from the dead. But we often don’t catch the why. Why did He do these miraculous things?
1. For His Glory.
Mary and Martha believed in Jesus’ ability to help their dying brother because they had seen His miracles. They sent for Him, but He decided to wait for two days before going to Bethany to see them.
Jesus knew that by the time He arrived Lazarus would be dead. He responds in verse 4, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Any trial we face can be used for God’s glory, and Jesus knew that allowing Lazarus to die, only to be resurrected later, would bring God an immense amount of glory.
2. For His Purpose.
We can see through scripture that Jesus loved this family. He had spent a lot of time with them and knew them well. Even though He was so close to them, He still delayed His journey. There was a specific purpose in His delay however.
And I’m so encouraged in this.
Sometimes I get frustrated because God isn’t answering my prayers the way I want, or when I want. But this is the perfect example of how God works outside of my time. He meets our needs according to His own purpose - His own timetable.
Jesus didn’t even have to go to Lazarus to heal him. He could’ve healed him the instant He heard Lazarus was sick. We read of stories like the healing of the official’s son where Jesus healed the child from miles away. But Jesus allowed Lazarus to die so that His power over death could be shown to everyone.
3. For His Humility.
I often forget that Jesus Himself was human. I get that He is God. I get that He created everything. I get that He is seated in Heaven where I will worship at His feet for eternity. But I forget that He was also a man.
That is why verse 35 is one of my favorite verses in this story. Jesus wept. That’s all it says. There is no explanation needed. He was sad, and He wept. He cared enough about them to weep with them. It is so important for us to recognize the ways that Jesus humbled Himself as a man. Only then can we truly understand Jesus as a divine being.
4. For His Divinity.
Right after we see Jesus crying, we see Him bring His friend back to life. What a beautiful picture Jesus painted for us. He humbled himself as a man and wept in sorrow, only to then be exalted as the Messiah by bringing someone from death to life.
This particular miracle was the last straw for the Jewish leaders. They knew that Jesus was more than just a man, and they still rejected Him as God. The Jewish leaders knew that if they didn’t stop Jesus, the Romans would lash out against them all, so they plotted His murder.
And ultimately, Jesus was sentenced to death so that He could rise 3 days later and prove His divinity. That is why He performed His miracles. So that we will be still and know that He is God! We often do not realize this, but Jesus did every single action in this story to ensure that His death would happen.
We need to daily remind ourselves of the miraculous things God has done in scripture, and in our own lives. But don’t just stop there. Evaluate those experiences and ask God why He has done those things, and what He is trying to teach you or powerfully do through you.
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Derick, Declare Glory