A Death

The sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.

Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”

Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (John 11:3-16)

Just because Jesus doesn’t seem to be doing anything for you right now, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care or that he doesn’t have a reason for it all. Jesus responded to the news that his friend Lazarus was sick by continuing to do what he was doing. He never visited poor Lazarus or his family. He let Lazarus suffer and die.

So what did Jesus mean by saying that Lazarus’ illness was “not unto death?” Not that he wouldn’t die, but that it wouldn’t be final. When bad things happen, it is hard to see past the pain of them. But from God’s perspective, Lazarus’ suffering and his family’s grief had meaning.

But that meaning came only after Lazarus was raised from the dead. The same goes for any suffering we experience. It may never make sense during our lives, but we should trust that God really does know what he is doing, always, just as Jesus knew with Lazarus. After his resurrection, Lazarus’ experience made sense. It will be the same way for us.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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