Summary: How can being in God's Will contribute to His Glory? The story of Lazarus' death and how it brought glory to God.
If I were to hold up a painted picture and ask what you think of it, there would be a variety of answers. Some might say it’s beautiful. Others might say it’s ugly or doesn’t make any sense. The reason that is, is because when it comes to art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Some works of art are immediately recognized as great art. For example, Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, or Michelangelo’s David. When people look at these works of art in person, they don’t marvel at the quality of the canvas, or the wonderful piece of marble or the beautiful frame. They marvel at the person who created it. A great piece of art leads us to glory in its creator.
In that frame of mind, we are God’s creation, and we were created for His glory. Unfortunately, we don’t reflect God’s glory as we should. In our sinful state, too often we want our own glory.
But if we want to bring glory to our Creator, where do we begin? That’s what this message is about. When we live as He created us to live—when we follow His plans for our lives—our lives bring glory to God. And that’s when we experience our greatest joy.
Today, I’ll be using the Gospel of John for our message, chapter 11. This story concerns Lazarus—his death and Jesus raising him from the dead. Jesus had received word that his friend, Lazarus, was ill. One might assume, since they were close friends, that Jesus would have hurried to Bethany to heal him. Instead, Jesus waited two days before starting His one-day journey to Bethlehem. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. Let’s pick up the story in verse 1.
READ John 11: 1-4. Did you notice what Jesus said? The significance of Lazarus’ sickness wasn’t that he would die, but Lazarus’ suffering would glorify God. Jesus recognized that the key issue wasn’t Lazarus’ death, but God’s Glory.
When we face a difficult situation or a health concern, our greatest worry is usually not tied to God’s glory. Our greatest concern is that we want out of that situation as quickly as possible. We want to feel better as quickly as possible. We want immediate comfort and relief, we want the difficulty to go away—NOW.
That’s what Mary and Martha wanted. When Jesus finally arrived, Martha says in verse 21, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” Mary and Martha probably assumed that they knew what was best in their situation. How dare them to think they knew best, right?
But we do the same thing. We tend to think that if God loves us, He’ll make us comfortable. But frankly, we’ll have an eternity in heaven to be comfortable. BUT, when we face a challenge, we can trust that God will work for our good and for His glory.
Our lives, as well as our deaths, ought to bring glory to God. Paul said it this way in Philippians 1:20. “My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Mary and Martha knew that Jesus loved Lazarus. They believed that Jesus could heal him. But now, they were going to learn something even greater about Jesus. Not only could He heal the sick, but He could raise the dead! Jesus was going to take His friends to a deeper place in their walk with Him than they had been before. The sisters were looking for healing, but Jesus focused on glory.
I preached a message back in April 2012 entitled, “The Purpose of Lazarus’ Death.” In that message, I asked, “How could Lazarus’ death glorify God?” Here are several ways that I listed: Lazarus’ death glorified God
• By showing God’s desire for man to have life.
• By showing God’s power to give life.
• By showing His approval of Christ by which He proved that HE really did love the world enough to send His Son to save the world.
And now we come to the climatic part of our story. READ John 11: 38-40. When it comes to timing, God is never in a hurry. It is we who are in the hurry. No situation is impossible with God! The Bible tells us so. The Bible shows us so.
Upon Jesus’ arrival, He commanded the stone to be removed from the entrance to the tomb. To those with Him that day, His request seemed quite impractical. Martha reminded Jesus of the unpleasant odors that would assault them. “But Lord, there’s already a stench because he’s been dead 4 days.” The KJV says, “But Lord, by now he stinketh.” “He stinketh, Lord, he stinketh.”