Lazarus and his sisters were dear friends of Jesus. Mary and Martha sent a messenger to tell Jesus that Lazarus was sick. The messenger and the disciples must have been very surprised at what Jesus said when he heard the message. “This sickness will not end in death, it is for the glory of God”. How could sickness be for the glory of God? They, like us today, look at things from the human standpoint. Why should a friend of Jesus, the Great Physician, or a child of God have to suffer? A better question might be, “Why don’t wretched sinners like us have to suffer more than we do now?” Sin came into the world when man disobeyed God and it will remain in the world until Jesus comes back to establish His Kingdom here on earth. Until that time of restoration comes, we remain under the curse of sin. God gets glory by overcoming the curse of sin. While Jesus was here on earth, He overcame the curse of sin one act at a time. Yes, Jesus could have just spoken a word right where He was when He heard the message or He could have left immediately and gone to Lazarus. He chose not to do either of those things, but waited for 2 days before He left to go to Lazarus. God’s timing is not our timing and His answer is not always what we want to hear, but they are always exactly what is necessary to bring glory to Himself.
8 The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. 9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts–Jeremiah 55:8, 9 (NCV) Now we aren’t able to see and understand these things, but one day we will know and understand.
12 It is the same with us. Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me.—1 Cor. 13:12 (NCV)
Until then, we can be comforted with God’s promises and the many gifts He gives each day,
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Jesus went about doing good, healing all kinds of diseases and sickness and raising people from the dead. When the official heard that Jesus was in Galilee, he went to Him and begged Jesus to heal his dying son. Jesus said “Go back home, your son will live.” The man believed Jesus and started home. On the way home, he met some of his servants who confirmed that Jesus was indeed correct. When we hear the words of Jesus spoken to us either orally or by the Holy Spirit abiding in us, do we believe? If we can believe Jesus for our eternal salvation, why is it so hard for us to believe that He can and will heal us? Paul tells us there is no reason for us to ever doubt that God will give us everything we need.
One day and possibly in the not too distant future, this earth will once again be destroyed. Only this time, it will be with fire, the heavens, the earth and everything in it will be burned with fire and melt away. There is only one Person to turn to, if we want to escape this terrible destruction. We must turn to Jesus. We should be practicing that every day of our lives. In the smallest of trials and frustrations, we should be turning to Jesus now. That is how we build our faith and know that we can trust Him to deliver us from the wrath to come. If we can’t trust Him with a hangnail, how do you suppose we can trust Him with the future of our souls? When the doctor says, “you only have a few days”, where do you turn? We should practice turning to the Great Physician in the small things. Regardless of who applies the bandage, He is the one who does the healing. He, and He alone, can direct the medical team if the end result is going to be healing. Above all, praise Him that the day is coming when we won’t need doctors of any kind. We will live an eternity where there is no sickness and no more dying.
12 I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?–Gal. 4:12-16 (NIV)
In this letter to the Galatians, Paul reminds them that he became as much like them as possible without violating his conscience. In our words today, we would probably say that he spent time making friends and building a bridge of confidence so that they would be more willing to listen to him. As the saying goes “people have to know you care before they care what you know”. As it turns out, Paul got to spend quite a bit of time in southern Galatia because of his sickness that he developed. This may have been the beginning of what Paul later referred to as “a thorn in the flesh”. It was very possibly a severe eye disease causing some amount of pain and facial dis-figuration. Paul implies that it might have made some of the people treat him badly and others would have plucked out their own eye and given it to him. But Paul pushes on and asks them the same questions we must ask ourselves and others today. Does our telling you the truth make us your enemy? Or once you know and understand the truth, does it make any sense to turn away from it? Just as Paul did, we have to get the people to understand that our witnessing to them is not because we feel that we are better or more holy than they are. It is because Jesus died for all of us simply because He loved us enough to do that for us. And His love for us requires us to show that same love to others.
1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began—John 17:1-5 (NLT)
Jesus had given up all His glory when He left heaven to become our Redeemer. That mission was soon to be completed. He had not lost a single soul that the Father had given Him. (Yes, Judas was lost, but he obviously was never a true believer) Now, Jesus is asking His Father to bring Him back home to be returned to that glory. He will have accomplished everything that they had planned before the earth was formed. He, once again, tells us the way to eternal life is to know Himself and His Father, the only true God. Now, it is our turn to bring glory to the Father by living the same lifestyle that Jesus lived. 35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.—Matt. 9:35, 36 (NLT)
As we go, we should always be telling the Good News about the Kingdom, but there are those that Jesus puts in our path that He wants us to talk to about Him. Our lifestyle and actions should be such that people notice a difference between us and the world. If we allow the Holy Spirit that abides in us to do His work through us then we will produce the fruits of the Spirit and that will draw people to Jesus.
5 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”—-John 5:1-8 (NKJV)
This is an amazing story in more than one way. The name of the pool, Bethesda, can be translated as “house of grace” or “house of mercy”. It tells us of an amazing event that happened at certain times when the angel came down and stirred the water. It shows us God’s amazing grace when Jesus healed this man. But the most amazing thing is the man’s answer to Jesus’ question. “Do you want to be made well?” Here is a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. You would have thought his answer would have been more along the lines of “I certainly do” or “Yes, yes, yes, I do” But instead he goes in a completely different direction and says “I have no”. Does this type of answer sound vaguely familiar? When Jesus asks us to help with His work, is our answer, “I can’t talk to people about that”, I don’t have any abilities” or I don’t have the resources”? To those responses, Jesus says to us: “Take up your ______ and walk” We can fill in the blank with whatever excuse we used, our weakness, our inability, our brokenness, our lack. Just as Jesus healed this man, He will provide whatever we need to do whatever He has asked us to do. It is not about our abilities, but it is about our availability. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send more workers into the field.
13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.–James 5:13-18 (NLT)
Of course, we know that God already knows our needs and our situation, but He has instructed to ask and keep on asking. Jesus told the story of the persistent woman and the unjust judge. She kept pestering the judge until he gave her what she was requesting. God does not always give us what we ask, because sometimes we ask for things that we don’t need. Psalm 37:4 tells us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts. Have you ever noticed that sometimes, when you pray fervently that what you end up asking from God is not what you were thinking about when you first started praying? That is when you can know that “the desires of your heart” have aligned with God’s Word and His will. Then the answer is always yes. But, if our desires don’t line up, then we often get a “no” or “wait”. Some people say that it is a cop out to pray “nevertheless not my will, but Yours be done”. But that is what Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. So, if He set the example, it is a good pattern to follow.