1 Peter 5
“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” —John 11:40
“Why, God? Why?” Does that question sound familiar? We could probably pinpoint moments in our life where we asked God why a certain incident or circumstance happened the way it did after we prayed. With the event of Lazarus getting sick and then passing away, the questions are why did Jesus not immediately go to Lazarus and heal him before he died, and why did it seem like Jesus was ignoring the request of Mary and Martha?
The key verses surrounding the event of Lazarus’s death are in John 11:41-42, as Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Jesus had a hidden agenda for God’s glory that would benefit others.
Firstly, this benefitted God because it brought glory to Him. Secondly, this benefitted the disciples who were with Jesus the entire time. Jesus told them before setting off to Bethany, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14-15). Thirdly, this benefitted Mary and Martha, that they might believe and grow in a deeper relationship with God. Jesus said to Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40). Fourthly, this benefited the people who gathered to mourn the loss of Lazarus, so that they would believe God the Father sent Jesus. Fifthly, as a result of Lazarus coming back to life, many other Jews heard and believed. John 12:11 reveals, “on account of [Lazarus] many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in Him.”
Returning to the question of “Why?”, the Lord Jesus was aware of and had His eyes on these five benefits that the situation of Lazarus’s sickness and death was going to bring about. Through this event, people experienced God in a way that they had never experienced Him before and, as a result, were going to believe in a way they had never had to believe before. Had Jesus got to Bethany in time and healed Lazarus who was sick, news would have travelled around the community that a sick man was healed. But there was a far-reaching purpose that laid behind Jesus not answering the prayer of Mary and Martha to Him.
Hence, when we pray and submit our prayers to the sovereign purposes of God, He takes whatever those issues might be to make them even more effective in their influence on other people—the problem has a hidden purpose.
Dear Sovereign God, how awesome are Your ways. My eyes are too short-sighted to see Your greater purpose in my problems. O Lord, please have Your way with my life. Thank You!