Scriptural Text: John 11: 1-17, 39-40
Thesis: All that God does and allow have an intended consequence. The intended consequence is that He is glorified in and through all things that occur in our lives. There are no unintended consequences or mistakes with Him. All consequences are ultimately for His glory and our benefit.
Human beings are imperfect, fallible, weak and limited in knowledge. Therefore, we do things that bring about many unintended consequences. Our knowledge is limited and we cannot know the future.
Illustrations of unintended consequences:
Treaty of Versailles of 1919 – It ended WWI and disarmed Germany and made it take full responsibility for starting the war. Germany was forced to give up territory and pay reparations. However, untended consequences of the treaty lead to the rise of the Nazi Party and Adolph Hitler.
Email – An efficient an inexpensive way to communicate opens one to the potential danger of computer hacker, viruses, spy ware and identity theft.
Aspirin – Intended to be a pain reliever, has also been used as a blood thinner due to its anti-clotting effects. Taken over a long period of time, aspirin can reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
With God there are no unintended consequences. Nothing happens without him causing it or allowing it. In our text we will examine the intended consequence of Jesus’ friend called Lazarus.
The resurrection of Lazarus is the seventh miracle recorded in John.
Jn 2 – turned water into wine
Jn 4 – healed a nobleman’s son
Jn 5 – healed a lame man at the pool of Bethesda
Jn 6 – feed 5000
Jn 6 – walked on water
Jn 9 – healed a man born blind
Since seven is the number for perfection, we see how it catapulted the glory of Christ to the forefront despite the opposition of Satan and his followers.
II. HUMAN CONDITION
v. 1,2 Now a certain man was sick named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
It is so human to get word or news that someone is seriously sick. Sickness reminds us that we are dust; taken from the ground and back to the ground we must return. Someone has called sickness the presentiment of death and the forerunner of corruption.
Genesis 48:1 And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
The news came to Isaiah in II Kings 20:1 that Hezekiah was sick unto death.
III. HUMAN REACTION
v. 3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
The first reaction is a desire to be healed. If sickness is human then desiring healing is equally human. They went to the right source for help.
James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
I Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
IV. DIVINE PERSPECTIVE
v. 4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
a) Situation is not final (“ sickness is not unto death”) v. 4
b) Situation has a purpose (“ for the glory of God”) v. 4
We see a similar situation in chapter 9 regarding a man born blind.
John 9:2,3 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
V. DIVINE LOVE AMIDST HUMAN CONTRADICTION
v. 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
What is the contradiction here? God if You love me then surely You will not watch me suffer. If You love me then You must heal me.
Please remember, HUMAN SUFFERING IS NOT INCOMPATIBLE WITH DIVINE LOVE.
God’s love for His own is not a pampering love; it is a perfecting love. The fact that He loves us, and we love Him is no guarantee that we will be sheltered from the problems and pains of life. After all, the Father loves His Son: and yet the Father permitted His beloved Son to drink the cup of sorrow and experience the shame and pain of the Cross. We must never think that love and suffering are incompatible. Certainly they unite in Jesus Christ.
VI. DIVINE DELAY
v. 6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
Matthew 8:24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
VII. GOD’S GLORY REQUIRED THE FOLLOWING:
a) Lazarus would get sick. (HUMAN TROUBLE)
b) Jesus did not come an immediately heal Lazarus. (DIVINE DELAY)
c) Lazarus would die. (HUMAN HOPELESSNESS)
d) Mary, Martha and Jesus would weep. (HUMAN SORROW)
e) Jesus would heal Lazarus and many would believe He is the Christ. (DIVINE GLORY – INTENDED CONSEQUENCE)
This whole ordeal was a set back for a set up!
Sickness – a set back
Delay – a set back
Hopelessness – a set back
Sorrow – a set back
Death – a set back
Each set back produced the perfect set up for God to be glorified!
VIII. POINTS TO PONDER – HOW SHOULD BE RESPOND?
a) God is glorified when he does what He wants to do when He wants to do it. In other words, God is sovereign. If He is not sovereign, He cannot be glorified in anything. (Know who you are dealing with.)
Phil. 3:9,10 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
How deep should our knowing of Him be? John MacArthur, in commenting on this text says we are, “intertwined in a bond of intimate love and knowledge with Christ that you are in Him. Paul loves that concept. He refers to it at least 164 times in his epistles. We are in Christ. "I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live yet not I but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." In other words, it's not I but Christ. I don't know where I end and He begins and where He ends and I begin. We are inextricably intertwined, that's how intimate the bond is, that's how deep the knowledge is. He moves through me. I have the mind of Christ. That's deep knowledge. So he says I count everything in my life trash. I count all my religious achievements rubbish for that deep intimate love relationship with the living Christ.”
b) To heal Lazarus a second sooner would have robbed God of His glory. (Trust Him. God’s perfect timing sets up His perfect glory.)
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
Isaiah 26:3-4 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4 Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:
c) No matter how desperate our situation might be, God will only move to help us in a way that maximizes His glory. Comforting us is not His ultimate end. His ultimate end is to satisfy His glory and build faith in us. (Expect God to be glorified in all that you go through and expect your faith to grow.)
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Jn 11:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.