This sickness – ‘Lazarus’ is not unto death’
John 11:1-44 Key V:4 When He heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." This is a well-known scripture passage, and many people would have learned it in Sunday School. I myself have read it many times. We say the story is primarily about Lazarus, or it's about Martha and Mary, the crowd of mourners attending the funeral, or even the Pharisees who were standing around observing. And I think we are right to a certain level, that it's about ALL the above. Lazarus is sick and requires healing, and of course, Mary and Martha need to see their brother healed. But I believe the story is deeper than that. Notice when Jesus hears that Lazarus is sick, He does something exciting; he does not act in the same way that most of us would do if we heard that a dear friend was sick. Jesus hears about his friend's illness and stays in the same place an extra two days! What...how is this possible?. Lazarus and his sisters are close friends of the Lord, and He doesn't rush to be with them. This is the strategy of Jesus: firstly, He hears that Lazarus is sick, then he must have become progressively unwell. Jesus still does not go; what must have Martha and Mary thought about their close friend's actions? Lazarus now dies, and is buried. Jesus would have known this, but he doesn't attend the burial service. It is only when the service and mourning has finished that Jesus makes way to see the family!
When he eventually arrives at the sisters' home, he has to deal with their pain, upset, and even turmoil. How could you not come? Mary said, 'If you had come earlier, my brother would not have died. The sisters had faith in Jesus healing their brother, but not faith to believe that he can do anything now that he had died. But Jesus knew what he’s doing; he was trying to go beyond the sisters' feelings. Something more than the raising of Lazarus was needed.
Jesus wanted to raise Martha and Mary’s faith. I believe this is the deeper point of the story. He 'uses' Lazarus as a tool, but it's about Martha and Mary. He needs to move their faith to another level of believing. They believed he could heal, but they had never seen him raise anyone from the dead. But Jesus told them, 'If you can believe, you can see the Glory of God', God will allow something in our lives to go through the process of being sick and even 'buried' and then he will raise it to GLORY... So he says TODAY your 'Lazarus' will be raised if you believe.