I think it is part of the human experience for us to expect God to do things our way, simply because He is God. If we have that mustard seed of faith, why isn’t the mountain being moved? Sometimes the healing doesn’t come, sometimes, our financial situations are still a struggle, and sometimes our prodigal children would rather be hanging out with the pigs, but if we remember Biblical truths, we can rest in God’s sovereignty and remember that our struggles produce endurance. The key thing to think of, as we examine John 11, is that this life is not about us. Even when Jesus walked the earth, life was not about Him. We are created for God and to glorify Him, and every situation we face in life is a reminder of that.
The story begins as Jesus gets word that one of his dearest friends, Lazarus was deathly ill. I’m sure, Jesus being the Son of God wanted in his humanity to heal his friend right then and there. Verse 5 tells us how much he loves him. There are instances such as Matthew 8:13 where Jesus healed the Roman Centurion’s servant where he wasn’t present for the healing to take place. Jesus, however in his perfect obedience, waited 2 days to go to Judea.
Jesus knew Lazarus was on his deathbed, yet he chose to wait until his passing to go to him. He knew his actions would cause heartache for some, especially his dear friends Mary and Martha because they could only see their present situation, however, Jesus elects God’s timing, not His.
John 11:4 gives insight on what Jesus’ mindset was during this situation when he says “this sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
The importance of this verse is huge. The situations we go through and the trials we face may be difficult for us, but every encounter in our life will ultimately be for the glory of God. If we put on our faith lens, our perspective changes and we begin to absorb a huge reality, every encounter and every situation on this earth is made to glorify God. God does not work for us. Does God bless us? Yes, so that He may be glorified. Do we face trials? Yes, so that our endurance may be developed, and so that again, God is glorified. Does that mean God doesn’t love us? No way, case in point: John 3:16.
When Jesus finally arrives in Judea, right away he encounters his friend Martha. Martha tells Him something we can all resonate with all too well. “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died”. (John 11:21) I mean, come on, her friend is Jesus, Son of God, yet he let her brother die? I’m sure her frustration was immense, and she probably wasn’t too kind to Jesus upon his arrival.
How many times do we question God, asking “Where were you?” with purely selfish motives? As we move into the story, Jesus encounters Mary, Martha’s sister who tells him the same thing; When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and told Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!” (John 11:32). And what follows is the beauty of the story”
When Jesus saw her crying and the Jews who had come with her crying,
He was angry in His spirit and deeply moved. “Where have you put him?” He asked.
“Lord,” they told Him, “come and see.”
So the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said,
“Couldn’t He who opened the blind man’s eyes also have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:33-37)
The perspective changes here. The Son of God was fully God, but He was also fully human. Jesus was being perfectly obedient to His father, yet His obedience was filled with anger and ridicule from those who he loved. Obedience is never easy, most of the time is costly, but always results in reward.
Jesus’ spirit was angry. His emotion was so intense, probably a combination of ridicule, frustration, sadness, and compassion, that Jesus, the Son of God, who already knew the end result of what is about to happen, wept. Jesus wept.
Now the Jews are calling Jesus a crybaby. They are questioning his authority and everything about him, all for obedience. This wasn’t easy for Jesus. He continued to be obedient however because He understood that everything in this life should point to and is for the glory of God.
I’m guessing at this point, Jesus is a little annoyed. I would be. Overbearing Martha again comes into the picture and as Jesus asks for the tomb to be open, Martha begins to nag. She says in verse 39: “Lord, he’s already decaying It’s been four days.” Jesus hits her right back with something we all need to hear: “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”(John 11:40)
This is important. Jesus didn’t tell Mary “Didn’t I tell you if you believed your brother wouldn’t have died” or “Didn’t I tell you if you believed I would raise your brother?” Jesus again puts things into perspective. Jesus tells her, that if she believed, she would see the glory of God. When our belief is put in perspective, we understand that it’s not about us, it is about God and His glory. If we believe, we will see the glory of God, even if it is not in the way that we hoped or imagined.
The story concludes with Lazarus being raised from the dead, and many people coming to faith in Christ as a result. (John 11:45) There is so much we can learn from this piece of history. Many times God does not act in a way that would coincide with our timing or preference; however that does not mean that He is not compassionate. The Son of God wept, and God doesn’t minimize our pain through trials. Obedience isn’t easy at times, not even for the Son of God. I do want to emphasize, again that God does not work for us. Everything we encounter in this lifetime is to be seen through the lens of glory. While this doesn’t make our trials any easier, we can rest in the assurance that God sees, knows and has a purpose in every encounter in our lives.