GOD'S WAYS ARE FOR HIS GLORY, #635
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. (JOH 11:4).
The reward the Father had for His Son and for His unspeakable perfect gift of obedience and submission was the glorifying of the Son. This was the Fathers ultimate fruition of glory in the glorifying of His Son for such perfect obedience.
In JOH 11:1-4 we see the case scenario of Lazarus. "Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 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."
We see in our text that this sickness of Lazarus was "not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." We need to remember in the preceding verses and in the preceding chapters that the Lord Jesus Christ had declared Himself to be the Son of God.
For this declaration He was called a blasphemer as we see in JOH 10:31-33; "Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God."
Jesus is threatened with death as they took up stones to throw at Him to slay Him because He said He was the Son of God. The Lord is about to bring forth a great wonder. Why? "For the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."
The entire plan of salvation was designed to bring glory to the blessed Son of God. This blessed Son of God was the Creator of the heavens and earth. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not; His own rejected him.
In JOH 1:1-3 we read, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." It was by the Word, by the authority of the Word that the Lord spoke and it happened.
The Son of God will be glorified by the design of the Father in bringing about a purpose that was totally beyond human comprehension. How could any human mind have designed such a plan of salvation? Who would have even been able to imagine that the Father of heaven and earth would give His own Son and that He might be our priest forever after the order of Melchisedec as we find in HEB 5:7-9. "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec."
Our text is, "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." (JOH 11:4). In it we see such a beautiful description of the Fathers decreed plan. We need to notice as we try to unfold this verse that what is coming about is something totally contrary to all human reasoning. God would be glorified; those whom He loved were sick, and He would be glorified by allowing them to enter into death, that He might be glorified in their resurrection.
And you and I have been allowed to enter into spiritual death, and the Son of God is glorified when we are delivered because He came to redeem us from the power of sin and from the power of the grave. He came to redeem us from spiritual death. He came to redeem us from all iniquity. He is unto us the resurrection and the life, and we need to see how the Father of heaven and earth gave His own Son to be our High Priest.
What is the duty, the job, of the High Priest? It is to take the confession of sin, bring it before the Father, and place the sacrifice on the altar where the blood on the mercy seat will obtain a pardon. Jesus came for this. He came to satisfy and make atonement for our sins. He came to be our High Priest after the order of Melchisedec, in other words, one who was without beginning, one who was without end, one who was without spot or without blemish. What do we see? How did the Father grant the giving of His own Son to make that atonement?
In HEB 5:7-9 we see the words, "Who in the days of his flesh." Why does this make reference specifically to the days of his flesh? In other words, Jesus came in our human nature. He had to be our substitute. No substitute could be anything other than that very human nature that sinned. It could not be a lamb or an ox or the blood of bulls and goats. It had to be paid by a substitute who indeed was very man.
It was in the days of His flesh, in His human nature, that Jesus was fully capable of suffering what you and I deserve to suffer. He must be fully a replica of that person He came to redeem. He must be in our human nature. He had to be able to suffer. He had to be able to hunger and thirst. He had to be able to suffer in His soul. He must have a living soul. He must have a living body. He must in all respects have every quality of our human nature. This is what we see here.
"In the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared." HEB 5:7. You and I can come before the Lord with prayers and supplications because our Substitute came before Him with prayers and supplications.
He had a holy dread for what was coming upon Him, but He also had a holy reverence for the command of His Father, that He must lay down His life and take it again. He was not to be laid in the grave and to see corruption. He must lay down His life, but He must also take it again, because He is thereby our resurrection and our life.
Now see the wonder of wonders that this whole plan of salvation was to open a way for us to become reconciled again with our God. Watch Verse 9. "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."
It doesnt say eternal salvation is to all mankind. He is "the author of eternal salvation unto all those who obey Him." How did He obtain that salvation? By the fact that He learned obedience by the things that he suffered He bought our salvation. We need to understand these principles of the gospel, to rightly understand what it means to be saved. To be saved is to be saved from sin. To be redeemed is to be redeemed from iniquity, and here we see that He is the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him.
We must sink in wonder and admiration to see how far God's ways are higher than ours, and the wonder of wonders that the Father chose to find His ultimate glory in His own plan of salvation.
What a wonder to see His plan of salvation in the fact that it was the gift of His Son. It is in the fact that He allowed and decreed that His Son should come and suffer such agonies, and that He should come pleading before the Father with strong crying and tears in our behalf. Why was it necessary for Him to do this? As He stands before the Father today to intercede for His people, He must intimately understand and be able to intimately relate to the power and the struggle of the sins that we struggle against. He must have suffered to understand the power of that struggle. Now He can intimately relate to our trials and us because He knows so intimately how we need to struggle against the powers of death.
Therefore, the wicked are admonished to "forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts [and then God proffers peace and pardon]: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon" as we read in ISA 55:7. He is the author of eternal salvation unto all them who obey Him.
I want you to see the admonition, the call to repent. We are admonished, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and [see that word and] and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
ISA 55:7 is not talking about a Pharisaical repentance. It is talking about is the type of repentance that cleanses our attitudes; it cleanses our thinking. The unrighteous man must turn and forsake his thoughts. God offers and proffers peace and pardon. To whom is pardon given? It is only given to those who turn from their unrighteousness and who turn from their unrighteous thoughts. The Lord does not proffer peace and pardon to those who continue in sin.
It is so important that we dont mix up the chronology of the gospel. Repentance is first. I talked to a man yesterday who went to see a man in the hospital with Alzheimers disease, who had lived an ungodly life. He went to the man, and he wasnt sure if he could understand him but he thought he could. He said the sinners prayer for him because the man couldnt do it; then he accepted Christ for him. He now knew that the man was saved. What a salvation is that?
What is salvation? It is to be delivered and redeemed from iniquity, and until we have forsaken our unrighteous ways and our unrighteous thoughts, we are not candidates for peace and pardon. The thing I am trying to point out is that the Lord started His gospel with the word repent. It is eternal salvation unto all those who obey Him. Now, that doesnt mean that we merit heaven.
After this most blessed gospel principle is set forth, God condescends to tell us His reasoning. Look at ISA 55:8-9, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Here we see a man who is sick, one whom the Lord Jesus loved dearly. He is the brother of two sisters who are dearly beloved of the Lord. Look at what we see in JOH 11:5, "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." The Lord loved them dearly, but the Lords ways are higher than our ways.
What did Jesus do when He received word that Lazarus was sick? Did He immediately speak the word and have Lazarus healed? No. He remained silent for His own good reasons. Why? That the Son of God might be glorified was His reason. Wherein? In that resurrection from death, He is glorified. You and I need spiritual resurrection for salvation. We need to be raised from the things of death. The Lord remained silent. He remained silent in this case. He was coming to raise him from the dead and therein He would be glorified. Therein Christ is glorified in you and me when we are delivered from the power of sin, and we start having a right attitude, when we have been renewed in the spirit of our minds. However, He does not proffer peace and pardon till we are redeemed from iniquity.
The sisters of Lazarus sent unto Jesus saying, "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick" in Verse 3. Can you tell me something that would have more of a compelling argument than if somebody came to you and told you that one who is most dearly loved was sick and dying? One of your own children, your wife or husband, one of your own dear sisters or brothers and somebody came and told you with the message that they were sick or dying. What would move your heart with compassion more for such a one, and not only for the man who was dying, but also for the sisters of the man who was dying. Do you see how the Lord restrained His love for Lazarus? He restrained His love for Martha and Mary. Why? He did it that God might be glorified. He did it that the Son of God might be glorified in His own works.
The Pharisees, the Jews, refused to acknowledge that Jesus was the Son of God, and now He is about to bring forth the most remarkable miracle of His entire ministry. It was such absolute, undeniable proof that He was the Son of God.
Now, as we receive but a glimpse of God's sovereign design in His plan for our salvation, then we begin to see why all things are done in His way, and at His time. Many times in the trials we have in this life, when our lives become such a riddle, there seems to be such a crucifying process. There seems to be such anxiety sometimes in our hearts. Can you imagine the hearts of Martha and Mary, how anxious they were as they stood by the bed of their brother and watched him take his last breath? What did Martha say? She ran to Jesus and said to Him in Verse 21, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." Can you imagine the anxiety of the hearts of Martha and Mary as they watched their brother breathe his last breath, not knowing the Lords purpose? Not having any idea why it says, "and He waited two days."
Look at Verse 6, "When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was." The Lords time is not our time, and our time is not the Lords time. He has His reasons for these things. The trials of our faith sometimes go to such an extent that we have to lose all sight and resort one hundred percent to faith. How could Martha and Mary reconcile this? They had given Him notice and yet He abode two days still. Then she came to Him in Verse 22, "But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee."
She could no longer walk by sight. Human reasoning says, "Now it is over. It is impossible. Hes dead. Hes been in the grave four days." Do you see how the Lord weans us from wanting to walk by sight? Sometimes we have so figured out our own problems that we go through in this world. We have figured out how we are going to do it. We find that the Lords ways are so much higher than our ways; He has His own way and He has His own time, and He doesnt tell us in advance. He doesnt give us a whole itinerary and say, "This is how you are going to go." The Lord doesnt do that. He didnt tell Martha and Mary. He didnt tell His own disciples until after Lazarus was dead.
Take notice of that. He came here in Verse 11, "These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep." Now He is telling His disciples why He had tarried two days. Lazarus is sleeping but I am going to wake him out of sleep. They still didnt understand. They thought He spoke of taking rest. They did not understand yet that He meant Lazarus was dead. In Verses 14 and 15 we read, "Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him." For our sake, for our spiritual welfare, we have these riddles that we dont understand.
Now, this is kind of a mystery. He loved Lazarus; He loved Martha; He loved Mary, and therefore, because of the love that He had for them, He abode two days still. Coming against all of their human reasoning. He abode there two days still. In JOH 11:5-7 we read, "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again."
The Lord had His timing. He had His purpose, and the main purpose on the end was that He might be glorified, that it might be for both the glory of God and the Son of God.
Now, this sickness is not unto death. I want you to think about something. Sometimes we have promises, and now all human reasoning says, "I must have deceived myself." Everything in our human reasoning comes against us. Now it cant happen anyway. In JOH 11:4 Jesus said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."
This sickness is not unto death, and then He turns around and tells them plainly in Verse 14, "Lazarus is dead." We need to understand that the Lords ways are so much higher than our ways. It is not unto death. Did the Lord Jesus have contradiction in what He told them? No, because we need to understand the depth of what He is saying. God might be glorified in the midst of a crooked and a perverse generation. There was a generation that wanted to slay the Son of God for the very fact that He proclaimed the Good News that He was the Son of God, that He was the Messiah, that He was there to redeem them from their sins.
I want you to see what we read in ROM 11:33-34, "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?" How often do we come before the Lord in prayer as though we are His counselor and start telling the Lord what to do? Lord, do this and Lord, do that. We are not His counselors. Instead, we need to come before the Lord saying, "Lord, give me wisdom to discern Thy will. Lord, give me to understand what Thou would have me to do." How unsearchable are His works. ROM 11:33 tells us, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
What a lesson this teaches you and me; it leads us to where it writes death upon everything of our expectations. It writes death on everything of the flesh that the God of heaven and the Son of God might be glorified.
The Jews obstinately refused to believe in either Jesus' words or His works. The works that they had seen so undoubtedly manifested that He was the Son of God, and they rejected everything they had seen. The wonderful words that He had spoken unto them so perfectly corresponded and were in such perfect harmony with what was written of the Messiah, and they refused to believe.
Now He directs their attention to PSA 82:6 where it says, "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." Now, if He should say that He is the Son of God, the very Messiah who has performed all of these wonderful works that reveal in fact that He is the Messiah, why should they be offended by saying He is the Son of God? He also directs their attention to the authority of God's Word that will not alter.
Now, watch that in JOH 10:34-36, "Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken."
In other words, dont try to interpret away what the Word of God says. Dont try to fabricate your meaning into it.
I spoke to a man this past week. I read him a passage of Scripture. He said, "Yes, but I dont agree with your hermeneutics." The word hermeneutics means your interpretation of Scripture. No. I made no interpretation. I made no application. I literally read a verse out of Scripture. You see, this is the situation we have here. The Lord Jesus is saying is that the word of God cannot be broken. In other words, "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." PRO 30:5-6.
This is the lesson the Lord is teaching; the authority of His word must not be set at naught. The Scriptures cannot be broken. See what honor Jesus places on the authority of His Word.
Now, when they called Jesus a blasphemer, He directed their attention to His anointing and His works. Take notice of this in JOH 10:36-38. "Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him." Jesus is speaking of His anointing. He is speaking of the Father having sent Him. He is telling them the Scriptures have prophesied this, and the Word of God cannot be broken, and you call Him a blasphemer, whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world?
Jesus brought a man out of the grave who had been there four days, and the corruption had already begun to decay his body. He is now preparing to bring forth the most powerful miracle of His whole ministry. What is that? He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God." Now, He will leave the Jews without any excuse.
The Jews had seen the wonderful works of Jesus where He had healed the sick, restored the blind, and spoken those gracious words found in JOH 10:14-15, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep."
He had told them that He had come to redeem them. He had told them that He was the Lamb of God. He had told them that He was the very fulfilling of the sacrifices that they had done daily, and they believed Him not.
Yet after all these wonderful works and gracious words, we read in JOH 10:39, "Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand." They sought to take Him. They sought to deliver Him to the Sanhedrin so that He could be put to death as a blasphemer because He candidly testified of who He was. Now, because of the reproach that they brought upon Him and His name, He was going to allow Lazarus to die. He was going to allow all this grief and sorrow to come upon His own dear loved ones as a testimony and an undeniable witness to this wicked and perverse generation that He was not only the Son of God but also the resurrection and the life.
This increasing enmity, which resulted in Jesus' crucifixion, was contrasted by the love of Jesus wherein He left His enemies without excuse. Even to those who had repeatedly tried to kill Him, He still responds with love. JOH 11:3-4 says, "Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. [God ordained this sickness for the purpose of Him glorifying His own Son.] 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." In other words, that the contrast of their bitterness and their increasing enmity might be contrasted by His love.
Neither satanic power, nor all Satan's servants could restrain the manifestation of the Person of Christ. All the powers of hell combined could not restrain the blessed manifestation of the Person of Christ. All their bitterness, all their hatred, all their determination to make Him out to be a blasphemer and to call Him a Beelzebub, and to call Him a devil never altered bringing His plan to fruition.
He met with unceasing opposition and hatred, yet His compassion was never altered toward His loved ones. This is the wonder of grace. In ACT 2 when apostles told of the resurrection of Christ, those who had physically, literally hung Him on the cross came and said in ACT 2:37, "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
When He was hanging on the cross, "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots." LUK 23:34. Who was He praying for? He was praying for those who hung Him on the cross. Who were they? What were their names? If your names are written in the Lambs Book of Life, your names are written in the fingerprints of those who put Him on the cross. If your name is written in the Lambs book of life, it was you who hung Him on the cross, and I want you to see the love He responds with.
In LAM 3:22-23 we read that Jeremiah had a revelation of that love. "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." It is because His compassions fail not, even as He was being called a blasphemer, even as He was being railed upon, even as He hung on the cross, and they were railing upon Him on the cross. What a wonder! It is of the Lords mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
Now, as Asaph extolled his God for His sovereignty and wisdom in dealing with His enemies, he exclaimed in PSA 76:10, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." Their wrath was restrained. They were not able to take Him each time they tried.
Look at JOH 10:39, "Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand." Their wrath was restrained. They could only go as far as the Lord gave license. You see, Satan and all his hosts are held in chains until the Day of Judgment. What does that mean? That means they can go only as far as the Lord gives them enough chain to do it. They are in chains. Their boundaries are set, and the powers of hell and of Satan can only go as far as the Lord gives license to go. They were not able to touch Jesus because His time had not come; the Lords time, for Him to be crucified, had not yet come.
I want you to see in this principle with Lazarus; it was in the Lords time when He would go to Mary and Martha, that He would be glorified in being the resurrection and the life. They sought to slay the very Son of God for His works as we see from JOH 5:16, "And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things."
In other words, it was for His works. It was for these wonderful works, which were His evidence that He was the Messiah, that He was being persecuted. I am going to tell you now, if you walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, and you walk in the spirit of Christ, you will be persecuted for your works as well. Why? The works are what shines light into the hearts of those who love sin and it convicts them. It is condemning to them.
So, after having opened the eyes of one born blind and after His most gracious words wherein He taught the eternal security of all believers, Jesus asked in JOH 10:32, "Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?" How heart-searching that must have been for those wretches, who were so bent and determined to put out His light. His light was outshining their light. At the cost of their own souls they felt they must put out that light because it condemned them. "For which of these works do ye stone me?"
As Jesus said, "Many good works have I shewed you from my Father," I want you to remember some of those works. In their very presence, He turned water into wine; He healed the noble man's son; He multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the multitude; He walked upon the sea; and He gave sight to one who was born blind. How could they even question His works? He said now, "for which of those works do ye stone me?"
Even after the Jews took up stones to slay Him, Jesus condescends to reason with them. I want you to see that His compassions failed not. Now, He says in JOH 10:36-38, "Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him."
I want you to see how patiently and how compassionately He still speaks with those as we see here in Verse 33, They took up stones because they thought He was a blasphemer, and He was standing there facing them with their hands full of stones. He restrained them. They were not able to throw them. He pleads with them, and He reasons with them, and His logic is so bright and so blinding to their determination to condemn Him that they dont have an answer. They could only vow to destroy Him.
In the face of all this He escaped out of their hand. So now, to not only vindicate His claim that He is the Son of God, but to leave these unbelievers without any excuse, it was "for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." He would now suppress His love for Martha and Mary and Lazarus. He would allow them the grief and the misery and the agony, and He would allow them to go through this that He might be glorified as being the Son of God in their midst.
I want you to see that Lazarus was not the first one whom Jesus raised from the dead, but the Jews might conceivably question whether death had indeed taken place in the daughter of Jairus. I want you to see that the disciples misunderstood Jesus when He said that Lazarus sleeps. Now with the daughter of Jairus, they may have conceivably misunderstood. Why?
In MAR 5:39 Jesus had said unto them, "Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth." They might conceivably have not realized that in fact she was dead, even though they laughed Him to scorn when He said that she was not dead, but asleep. However, she had not gone into the grave. She had not started to decompose. Death had not in fact set upon her body like it had with Lazarus. They may conceivably have not realized or could at least argue that she was not dead.
I want you to see how the Lord Jesus is leaving them now without any excuse. Jesus was about to raise a man from the dead whose body was already being consumed by corruption. His body had already started to decompose; He waited to remove any question about whether or not he was dead.
In JOH 11:39 we read, "Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days." Now it is not a matter of question whether or not he was dead. Now, the Son of God will be glorified in being the resurrection of one who is unquestionably dead, unarguably, undeniably. He was not only dead, he was committed to the tomb, and he was in the tomb four days.
Our text was Jesus answer to the messenger who came to tell Him the brother of Martha and Mary was sick. Martha and Mary sent a messenger and here is His answer to the messenger. In other words, the message that the Lord Jesus sent back to Martha and Mary in JOH 11:4-6, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was." He did not take immediate action. He waited for the time and will of His Father.
This seems to have raised a grave concern in the minds of the disciples. What? He said that we should go back to Judea? They remembered how He had just left there after the Jews had tried to kill Him. They remembered the enmity of the Jews, and now He is saying they should go back to Judea.
Look at JOH 11:8-10, "His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him." The Lord is showing them that those Jews will stumble in their darkness. They will not be able to destroy Him because they are walking in the darkness of their souls.
Scripture most often teaches how God's ways are so much higher than ours as the Apostle Paul said in ROM 11:33, "How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
Jesus again refers to death as being asleep in reference to Lazarus. Look at JOH 11:11-12, "These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well." In other words, if he is sick and he is sleeping, he is just resting, let him rest. They didnt understand.
How could the disciples have reasoned that Jesus meant Lazarus was dead? Jesus told them in our text in JOH 11:4, "This sickness is not unto death." They have not realized that Lazarus was dead. The Lord promised this, and now look what is happening when Jesus tells them plainly that Lazarus is dead. They are absolute contradictions. What must they say? Sometimes things go to such an extent that human reasoning says that now it is impossible. There are contradictions. The Lord had said, "This sickness is not unto death," and now He is telling them that Lazarus is dead, but God might be glorified in this. We want to make sure we understand why the Lord is doing this.
The disciples were to learn that the death of Lazarus, as the man being born blind, were both ordained of God for His glory. This is what you and I need to understand as we go through our trials, as we have trials come upon us that have no answers. They are such a riddle; they are beyond all comprehension. The Lord sends them that He may be glorified, and how is that? We no longer can walk by sight. There is only one way we can walk any more and that is by faith.
In the case of the man born blind, we see in JOH 9:2-3, "And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." It was because the Lord would do a wonder, a miracle, and He would be glorified. That is why that man was born blind. It wasnt because of any particular sin of his parents or of the man.
The disciples could not understand why Jesus would go to awake Lazarus saying, "Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well." And in Verses 13 to 15, "Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe."
The Lord was not doing this wonder to the intent that the scribes and Pharisees would believe. They were not going to believe. He had not given them faith to believe. He said, "To the intent that ye may believe." Do you realize that as the Lord leads us through our trials and tribulations to give us a deliverance. He gives us a deliverance here or we see another deliverance there; these are building faith, that we may believe that He is the Christ, that it is the work of grace, and that it is God who is dealing with us. He says, "To the intent that ye may believe." "Nevertheless, let us go unto him."
"Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus," as we see from Verse 5, so why did He wait to go there until Lazarus was dead? We find the answer in JOH 6:38, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." He did this in unconditional surrender, in spite of the love that He had for Martha and for Mary and for Lazarus. He did this in unconditional surrender to the will of God, that God might be glorified and that God may glorify His Son.
I want you to see why was He waiting. Hereby we learn the eternal wonder of salvation. This case scenario illustrates the wonder of salvation, and do you know what that is? Life comes through death. Without death, there is no life. There has to be death to sin to be able to live unto God. There had to be death before the resurrection.
Now, let me show you what the Lord Jesus tells us in JOH 12:23-25. I want you to see how this principle comes through and how beautifully Christ illustrates this, "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit [where does fruit come from? Where does life come from but through dying]. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."
This is the principle that is being taught in this case scenario that Lazarus must die for the resurrection to take place. We must die unto ourselves. We must die unto sin for the resurrection unto newness of life.
The way to enter Christ's service is through death to the flesh and following Him in the way of the cross. And we see in JOH 12:26, "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour."
How do we serve Christ? We serve Him by entering into death, being baptized into His death, and raised unto newness of life.
Now, lets look at the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in LUK 16:22-31. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence."
The rich man is not willing to give up. He now wants to spare his loved ones from the same torment. The argument of the rich man was that if one were raised from the dead, then they would hear him.
Verses 27-28 continue, "Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment." I want you to see that again the Lord is going to use this to leave them undeniably without excuse.
In Verses 29-31 we read, "Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." Can you imagine the obstinacy of the human heart? Even though one would rise from the dead, they wont hear if they do not hear the gospel, and if they do not hear the law of God.
How true to their character was this parable to the miracle that Jesus was now performing. The rich man wanted to send Lazarus to his fathers house that they may hear. The rich man reasoned that his brethren would hear from one who rose from the dead. What did the Lord Jesus do? He raised Lazarus from the dead. He brought him out of the grave.
See what we read in JOH 12:9-11, "Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death."
Can you imagine the just damnation that will come upon those who refuse to hear the gospel? The Lord Jesus vindicated what He said in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Even though one would be raised from the dead, they refused to hear, but think of how the Son of God will be glorified in the Day of Judgment. Glorified in their just damnation because He raised one from the dead. He raised a Lazarus from the dead.
Verse 11 says, "And they consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death. [Why?]; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus." That is an astonishing truth.
I want you to see how the Son of Man will be glorified in their damnation. He, with such love and such compassion, went to such an extent to do a wonder, not only that they would believe His words, but He also said, "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him." JOH 10:37-38.
JOH 11:41-44 tells us, "Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 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."
Some of the people who witnessed this miracle believed on Jesus, others ran to the Pharisees to tell all Jesus had done. We see the reaction of the Pharisees after they discussed their fear the Romans would come and take away their places. Verse 53 says, "Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death."
Look at the powerful works that He had done and the obstinate, bitter hatred of the Jews, how they were now going to put Lazarus to death because many of the Jews went away and believed on Jesus. Not only are they going to destroy Jesus, but also they are so jealous because there were those who went away and believed on Him. They refused to believe.
Our text says in JOH 11:4, "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." Now we can see His purpose and the result. Amen.
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