I’ve not written a blog in awhile, but I read something in my quiet time with God this morning that I wanted to share. I’m reading through the Bible again in portions of both the Old and New Testaments. John 11 records the story of the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. From the beginning of the story, we get a major clue as to what Jesus was up to when he didn’t go heal Lazarus as soon as he heard he was sick. He told his disciples, “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” (4). Jesus delayed his trip to Bethany for a greater purpose: the glory of God. After Jesus arrived and met with Martha first and then Mary, he saw Mary weeping and “was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” (33). He himself began to weep, and the Jews present interpreted this as Jesus’s great love for Lazarus” (36). However, some of the Jews asked, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” (37). The obvious answer to that relevant question was, “Yes!” So, why didn’t he? Remember the clue from the beginning of the story: “It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it [through Lazarus’s death].”
When I read the question the Jews rightly asked, my mind immediately went to the recent “mass killings” in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX. I asked the same question, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man (and also performed many other miracles) have prevented those murders?” The obvious answer is the same, “Yes, indeed!” So, why didn’t God? And why doesn’t God do more to stop all murders? We must believe that the answer is the same as Jesus told his disciples and reiterated to Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (40). When God ordains a “tragedy,” it’s for a greater triumph, a greater purpose: the glory of God. Rather than focus on the pain & suffering, God’s people believe and trust him and look for the greater glory. I heard this exact thought in an interview with a woman who lost a loved one in the school shooting. She said that she will really miss the child killed, but she’s looking forward to what God will do through all of this. That woman understands that God always has a greater purpose in mind in all things that happen to us.
I may be wrong, but I disagree with the Jews who thought Jesus was weeping because he loved Lazarus. I believe Jesus was weeping because he loved Mary and how sorrowful she was over the death of her brother. I believe that Jesus “was deeply moved” and “greatly troubled” because he witnessed first hand the painful and sorrowful effects death had on those he loved. Jesus himself felt deeply the devastating effects of death (that were the results of Adam’s sin). God incarnate was moved by human pain and suffering and sorrow.
As I finished reading the rest of John 11, another thought entered my mind: “Could not Jesus have prevented his own death? Could he not have spared himself the pain and suffering of death?” I believe the answer is the same, “Yes!” So, why didn’t he? Again, the same answer…for the glory of God, so that the Son of God might be glorified. How would that happen? By his own death. Strangely enough that answer is spoken through one the key figures in the suffering and death of Jesus, namely Caiaphas, the high priest, who prophesied, “…it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” Furthermore, “he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad,” (50-52). Little did Caiaphas and the other enemies of Jesus realize, but their plans to put Jesus to death had already been planned by God (Acts 2:23 & 4:28). And not only Jesus’s death but also his triumphant resurrection – all for the glory of God and for us! We need to rejoice that Jesus died for US and that we haven’t perished. We should rejoice that WE are part of the children of God he has gathered from all over the world. Now that’s worth reflecting on this Memorial Day, as we also remember the many who died serving our nation fighting to preserve our freedom. We also are free to serve others because God has set us free through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let us live today for the glory of God.