Jesus Delays That Many Might Believe
The sisters therefore sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” But when Jesus heard it, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”
This is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead which makes what Jesus said to be something we have to look at closely, for He tells His disciples that the sickness is not unto death which led them to the conclusion that Lazarus would not have to endure the pain of dying. Then Jesus finishes with telling them that He will be glorified by Lazarus’ recovery.
As we read the story, Lazarus’ sickness did cause him to physically die and he had to undergo his trial with patience knowing that even if he were to die, death itself was no match for Jesus’ authority and power.
So let me ask us, how many of us have had a trial where we knew Jesus would intervene, and indeed He had even given us promises that He would, and yet the conclusion is that He did not rescue us from the loss of those things? That great ending where God victoriously rescues us, did not happen. Now as we continue to read in the next two verses of this chapter it says that after hearing the news of Lazarus’ sickness, He delayed two more days during which time Lazarus died. So Jesus gets an urgent request from Mary and Martha and yet delays in going to them.
So the question is – why did Jesus delay? He knew the delay would mean physical death for His friend whom He loved. So why did He delay in going and healing him and keeping him from enduring anything more. And at the same time, saving Himself from the frustrated and sorrowful feelings that were stirred up in Mary and Martha towards Him because of it, so much so that when Mary confronted Him He wept for her grief. The answer is found in the second part of His statement. “This sickness is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”
Jesus allows His friend Lazarus to be part of a great miracle to demonstrate the truth of who He was, the Son of God. It says later on in this chapter that so many people believed in Jesus because of this miracle that the priests were afraid the entire nation would be won over to Christ because of it! Lazarus was a well known man who lived just outside of Jerusalem and many people were at his funeral and then witnessed him raised from the dead. It says that Jesus did not arrive until Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days, long enough for many people to have heard and witnessed the truth of it. They then became eye-witnesses to his resurrection through Jesus.
So what I want to say to each of you today is, if you have experienced the four days in the tomb or are just experiencing them, this sickness is not unto death! For though you should die physically or lose everything, Jesus is the resurrection and the life and this sickness will be for the glory of God and many will believe in Jesus because of it. So be of good courage for He is weeping and enduring it with you while He delays, but as David says in Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting, and he who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Be strong and of good courage my brothers and sisters! Our God is awesome and He will be glorified in these things and many will be saved because of it!