Text: “When Jesus heard that (that Lazarus was sick), He said, This sickness is NOT unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
Good morning, sometimes confused Christian! You and I can sometimes arrive at a passage of Scripture, or a verse of Holy Writ, that causes us great confusion. We know there are no true contradictions in God’s Word, for God is God and He makes no mistakes in His Spirit-inspired Word. However, with our puny and finite minds, you and I do get a little confused from time to time when we read what looks like Divine contradictions in God’s Word.
Today’s Bible Lesson examines one such apparent contradiction. If the sickness of Lazarus was NOT ‘…unto death…’; why then did he actually die? And if the Lord Jesus, knowing all things, knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead - why did the Lord bother to weep?
Then we have Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, and the apparent contradiction in actions they made as a consequence of their brother’s death. Martha ‘…as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him; but Mary sat still in the house.’! (V.20)
The explanation for the first apparent Bible contradiction lies in the context of our text for today. Jesus plainly told His disciples that ‘This sickness is NOT unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.’ (John 11:4)
What Christ obviously meant by this statement, given the context of what followed, was that Lazarus would indeed die, but that his death would not be permitted to endure, for Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead, and thus be glorified as the Son of God by manifesting His power over death. “Jesus said unto her (Martha), Thy brother shall rise again.” (V.23)
There never was, is, or ever shall be any real contradictions in the Word of God to mankind. God’s Word is truth! (John 17:17)
Then we have the second apparent contradiction in actions taken by the two sisters - Martha and Mary. Which of these actions are we latter-day Christians encouraged to take in times of serious personal and family troubles? Are we to emulate the actions of Martha, or the inaction of Mary?
Martha’s Action: As soon as Martha heard that the Lord Jesus was coming, she ‘…went and met Him…’ She swung into positive action and went swiftly into the Presence of the only One Who could help her in her time of deep bereavement and distress - King Jesus.
When deep distresses and troubles come to you and to me, my Christian friend, we do well to flee in haste to our Saviour, Christ Jesus, for our only real help is in Him. Martha did well.
“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28)
Mary’s Inaction: As sister Martha ran into the Presence of her Saviour, Jesus Christ - sister Mary ‘…sat still in the house.’ (V.20)
Martha was the woman of direct action, Mary was the woman of patient waiting in the Presence of the Lord. Mary ‘…sat still in the house.’
So often we latter-day Christians need to follow the example of Mary when serious troubles assail us. We too often fly hither and thither to work things out in our own strength, instead of waiting in the Lord’s Presence, ‘…sitting still in the house…’, and seeking God’s direction for our course.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalm 46:10-11)
Mary did well to ’…sit still in the house…’, waiting on the Lord in prayer and faith to see His hand of deliverance.
“Ye shall not need to fight in this battle; set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the Salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem; fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them; for the Lord will be with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:17)
The Jewish friends were weeping; Martha and Mary were weeping - but why was the Living Lord Jesus weeping too?
I believe that Jesus wept when He saw the depth of His people’s unbelief and lack of faith. Our unbelief and lack of trust in Him, must surely still cause our Saviour to weep today. Let us seek to trust Him more, and wait with patience on His deliverance.
Thought: Weep not, sweet Jesus - we fully trust in Your complete Salvation.