Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 92:1 – 4
Read the “1110 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “The Door”
“When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. … 45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.” (John 11:4, 45 KJV)
Our church has been studying 1st Peter on Sunday mornings for a couple of months now, and we have been paying close attention to the subject of suffering. The believers in Peter’s day were going through much tribulation because of their identification with the Lord Jesus Christ. In that study of 1st Peter we have considered the possible reasons that God would allow a person or church to experience trials or suffering. We have concluded that there are three reasons that stand out: the glory of God; the furtherance of the gospel or edification of believers (others are watching); and the instruction or correction of the person (or people) suffering. In the account of the sickness, death, and resurrection of Lazarus here in John 11, we see all three.
In the story of Lazarus several thoughts come to mind. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. However, Jesus allowed the people He loved dearly to suffer. Lazarus was sick unto death and Jesus did not go to heal him. Lazarus suffered through his sickness, and though his sisters were not ill themselves, they suffered along with him because they loved him dearly. They also had to endure the suffering of grief for four long days while they mourned for their brother after he had died. By the way, we sometimes forget that none of these folks knew what Jesus was going to do. In their minds, Lazarus was gone forever. Even Jesus suffered somewhat. He “wept;” he “groaned in the spirit,” which is very interesting because He knew that Lazarus’ death was only temporary. Perhaps, He wept because He knew that He was removing Lazarus from the place of comfort that he was then in (after he died and went to Paradise), and was bringing him back into a sin-cursed, Christ-rejecting world.
We can see from this account that the suffering of Lazarus and his sisters accomplished all three of the purposes mentioned above:
- Christ was glorified in that Mary and Martha, though struggling, maintained their testimony of faith in Christ. He was also glorified because of the fact that the many folks who were present had the chance to witness a great miracle, and Christ was magnified in their eyes.
- The believers present were also edified and strengthened in their faith, and many unbelievers believed as a result of what they saw and heard.
- Mary, Martha, and all of the people present learned a great lesson about trusting in God. Though their suffering was not a consequence of some action on their part, they were corrected in their thinking nonetheless.
How about you? What is your attitude regarding the suffering that God has allowed to come your way? We need to learn to accept the fact that the God who we love and serve also loves us. He is well aware of what we are enduring, and He is working in us, and in those around us, through our trials. We need to believe that God truly will “work all things together for good” in our lives (Romans 8:28), and trust that the suffering that we may go through today will produce a greater joy sometime in the future. We simply need to trust Him.
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