SICK FOR GOD’S GLORY
John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 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. 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
God’s loved ones get sick! They are in the same world and therefore susceptible to the same maladies as the rest of mankind. They have the same “common to man” trials as everyone else. But the Lord is with them in their trials to make sure the believers are aware of their God-granted, spiritual capabilities. For we come to learn of our spiritual strength by the degree of severity of our trials! And we are made to look to the Lord for his way of escape that is always provided along with the malady. 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
For it is man’s sufferings, and not his enjoyments that cause him to have a greater God-consciousness! “The way of the cross leads home.” Ecclesiastes 7:2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
We know that when sin entered into the realm of mankind, it brought both spiritual and physical sickness. But it is not always the case that a specific sin brings on a specific malady. We must look for the cause of sickness in the manifestation of the works of God. John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
And no matter how spiritual one’s kinfolks are, they cannot prevent either sickness or death. Consider verse two of our above listed context. The inspired record of this event does not proceed without noting the special soul of Lazarus’ sister Mary. She had a daily devotedness to the Lord. Luke 10:39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
And as we read, she had revealed to her this one special manifestation of worship to Christ Jesus. She alone, of all the members of the human race was ordained to anoint the body of the Lord for his burial. John 12:3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
Her inner revelation by the Holy Spirit gave her insight, not only as to who Jesus was, but also of his coming death. But when the disciples were made aware of this, their response was, “this shall not be unto thee.” (Matt. 16:22) Therefore even with these critical men rebuking her for anointing the Lord with this very expensive ointment, she did not cease, but even bowed down and dried his feet with her glory! 1 Corinthians 11:15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: That made her hair, which was her glory, to be of the same aroma as Christ’s glory in his obedience to the cross! She could not be shamed from her intense, personal worship to Christ!
But in spite of this, Lazarus was still sick! And he was going to die!
The Jewish mind at that time found it difficult, if not impossible to believe in the resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? Acts 17:32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. Acts 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
Both Mary and Martha believed that the resurrection was only an end time EVENT. But they were about to learn, at the cost of their brother’s death, that The Resurrection is a PERSON! But a resurrection requires a dead man. And the Lord God had chosen Lazarus for that very purpose. John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And this was to happen to this one little family unit solely due to the fact of Christ’s love for them. John 11:5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. Luke 12:48 For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:
There are many educated believers among us today who are well versed in the theology of God who have yet to have an experiential knowledge of the Saviour! But faith, in order to be fully developed must be tried. 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Mary and Martha had to give up their brother with the natural affection of the human spirit, in order to gain Christ as the supreme love of their life. Then they were given their brother back, never to have inordinate affection for him again. Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This was the whole issue of the Lord instructing Abraham to sacrifice Isaac! Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. Be careful dear Reader, the Lord is a jealous God and will require you to lose your Isaac, and your Lazarus in order that you may love Him with ALL your heart! Exodus 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
The Lord God did not allow Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, for Isaac could not afford him his atonement! Christ and Christ alone is the only atoning sacrifice! And Christ and Christ alone is to be loved supremely, above all natural affections! 1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
We also learn from this most valuable event that even those souls dedicated to the Lord Jesus can make him weep! John 11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept.
But why is it that our Lord wept? It certainly was not with the same inordinate affections that Mary and Martha had. For he referred to Lazarus’ death as but sleeping. And wherever Lazarus’ spirit was as his body lay dead, he was with the Lord! Matthew 22:31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, 32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Those three patriarchs had long been physically dead. But their spirits were alive and in the presence of the living God.
The Lord was weeping because Mary was only considering her brother being dead, and not the Lord as being Life! She had the same inordinate affections as did “the Jews” as stated in verse 37 of this chapter. They were giving far more attention to the “thief” who comes to kill and destroy, than they were to one who comes to give abundant life! John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
This same kind of thing disturbed him with Philip. John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
The Apostle Paul stated that it was the loss of all things which caused him to come to a more full awareness of who the Lord was! Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
We sing, “Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to thy cross I cling.” But we hold a tight grip on all our creature comforts as we lift our voices in doing so. Christ “emptied himself.” He made himself of “no reputation” for us. But we howl and weep if we have the loss of our slightest creature comfort. Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.38 This is the first and great commandment.
Take note of these verses: John 11:14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. The Lord “was glad” that he did not rush immediately to Bethany as soon as he was summoned. For he had a view of God’s glory, far above the awareness of all around him. For he would give them their brother back. But only after he was worshipped as The Resurrection! – His glory was at stake.
A young daughter lived alone with her father. In his love for her he hand carved a set of wooden beads for her a necklace. She felt honored and wore them proudly. But over the years as he became more financially prosperous, he asked her for the much loved necklace. She asked, “What do you intend to do with it?” He responded, “I’m going to throw it into the fire.”
She went fleeing to her room in tears. And for a long time thereafter there was a strong atmosphere of stress and uneasiness in the house. She came to miss their rich fellowship so much that she finally came out of her room and handed the necklace to her father. She tearfully said, “Do what you will with them. I can’t bear being out of fellowship with you.”
And sure enough, he immediately threw them into the fire. And as she watched them burn, her father got out a lovely jewelry case and handed it to her. She was trembling and weeping as she opened it. To her amazement there was a beautiful set of matching pearls. The father said, “I have had these for you all along. I just wanted you to be allowed to show me the trust of your love.” Lazarus dead. Christ The Life!
Remember there was stench when Lazarus’ stone was rolled away. But there was none when the Lord’s stone was rolled aside by the angel. 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Matthew 12:46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
May God grant mercy!
Pastor Gene Breed
November 16, 2018