I was reading today the story of the resurrection of Lazarus and i noticed something that i have read before, but today it resonated with me differently. In John 11:6 it says, “so when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” Jesus knew Lazarus was really sick and he could have healed him right then and there, but it would appear that Jesus allowed him to continue to suffer in his sickness by not healing him. At first one would think, “this is so cruel and unloving!”, but we know that it wasn’t that Jesus lacked loved for Lazarus because in the same chapter in verse 3 Martha and Mary (Lazarus’s sisters) sent word to Jesus saying, “the one you love is sick”. This shows me that it was obvious to others how much Jesus loved Lazarus and more than that it is stated as a fact that Jesus loved their family in verse 5.
So what do we make of this? Why would Jesus allow Lazarus to suffer? Good question.
We have a huge clue in verse 4 that this was meant for Gods son to be glorfied:
“This sickness will not end in death. No it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it”
And later in 14 that this was for the good of many people:
“So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake i am glad i was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him”
We see in this chapter Martha’s good confession:
“Yes, Lord,” she replied “i believe that you are the messiah, the Son of God who has come into the world”
In v53 we see that this would speed up Jesus’s death and the completion of his mission:
“So from that day on they [(The Pharisee’s)] plotted to take his life.”
Based on this information i think we can be certain of a few things:
- It is undeniable that Jesus loved Lazarus.
- This was for the benefited of other people.
- This would ultimately help other people believe and be saved.
- This revealed Gods power and his glory.
- This incident would speed up Jesus’s crucifixion would ultimately mean salvation for you and me.
So here is my main take away:
Allowing suffering does not indicate a lack of love since we can be certain Jesus loved Lazarus yet allowed him to suffer. It seems that allowing suffering can still be loving as long as there is purpose and meaning in it. My opinion based on the text is that Lazarus’s suffering was allowed by God for the betterment of everyone around the situation, for the salvation of many who would witness it, and for the glory of God to be revealed. This is a very hard teaching when it comes to allowing people we love to go through hard times, but sometimes we must take a step back and allow challenges to come to others so that God’s glory may be revealed in people’s lives and that people would believe in God. If we never experienced bad times, how would we ever see God?
If we never needed a miracle, why would one ever be performed?
Thus lies the great paradox miracles. It is the suffering that brings about the miracles.