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For the Glory of God

One of the most touching stories in New Testament scripture is the gripping drama of two sisters and a brother; Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It illustrates how two sisters dealt with grief following the death of their brother. This story is so filled with meaning that John devotes an entire chapter to it.

Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived in the village of Bethany, not too distant from Jerusalem. Jesus was a close personal friend of Lazarus and no doubt He probably visited their home on many occasions. Lazarus' home may have been like a hospitality station for Jesus and His disciples on their frequent trips to the capital.

One day, Jesus received news that Lazarus was sick and his sisters were requesting that Jesus come to visit. Scripture tells us that Jesus did not drop everything and make haste to go see Lazarus. On the contrary, He took His time and lingered on the other side of the Jordan River for two whole days before venturing toward Bethany where this family resided. Nevertheless, Jesus did send a message to the sisters saying, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."

Maybe you can relate to these sisters. Maybe your prayer and cry was the same as Mary and Martha's. Maybe you called upon His name and sent a word to heaven asking for the healing of your loved one. But, Jesus lingers and sends word to you that, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." How do you respond?

Jesus continues on about His business. He takes His time. He was not in any hurry to get to Lazarus.

There is an important insight that we do not want to miss here. It is simple truth; we cannot hurry God. God cannot and will not be pressured to work as we so will. We try all kinds of tricks and manipulations to get each other to hurry up and do what we want. But it does not work with God. God does not come running just because we call. It is so unfortunate that we are forever trying to understand what we cannot understand instead of just trusting God to do as He promised He would. We put ourselves through so much grief trying to access what is not available to us when we want it. We want to impose our time frame on God. So often we want Jesus to do things in our time but He cannot be persuaded or compelled by man. He works within the freedom of His own will and on His own initiative. Now, sometimes God will act immediately and other times we have to wait on Him. Mary and Martha did not understand the delay, the disciples didn't understand the delay, friends of the family did not understand the delay and we do not understand, but Jesus did. He was setting the stage for the great miracle He was going to perform.

We must also understand that how God works in our lives is not always meant to be just for us. Sometimes, indeed most of the time, God is acting with a purpose of demonstrating His power to those around us for His glory. We may already be believers, but maybe those around us are not. God will use our circumstance as a means of showing His powers in such a way that observers may be lead to believe in Him and call upon His name.

Well, at last Jesus appears in Bethany. Even before He met Martha and Mary He knew Lazarus had died. In fact, that was the reason for His delay. He was waiting for Lazarus to die. How else could He perform the raising of Lazarus from the dead? Of course, the sisters did not know this. Martha's adrenaline was flowing as she ran to meet Him and probably in an admonishing tone said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." A short time later Mary came and knelt at His feet and said the same thing, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Jesus was deeply touched by Mary's tears of pain and felt compassion by their lack of understanding and began to weep Himself.

You know the story. Jesus went to Lazarus tomb and called upon God the Father to raise him up and old man Lazarus got up from the grave.

But I think it is critical that we realize that this event was not so much for the life of Lazarus, or for His love of Mary and Martha, as it was for the glory of God and His Son. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead so men might recognize Him as God through His display of divine power. Remember, there were two groups who were present at the funeral of Lazarus. His disciples were present to witness His power over death so their faith would be increased and the Jewish people were there to witness His power over death so they might believe He was their awaited Messiah. He was performing a miracle of unbelievable power in calling the dead to life. This is clear because spiritually speaking; Lazarus was called back from life into death. He was brought back into the land of the dying only to die again.

It is our Christian business to glorify and magnify God in all that we say, do and think. The glory we give God is nothing less than our lifting up His name in the world, magnifying Him in the eyes of others, being advocates of His truth and living obediently by His word. For us, everything is for the glory of God.

Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, veteran social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach which can be reviewed on her site. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: My Grief Management Workbook, is expected to be available soon.

You are welcome to visit AMEN Ministries: Your Soul's Service Station for spiritual refreshing, soul edification, browse our newly expanded mini shopping mall or review our recommended books you may want to add to your personal library.

Blessings to all!

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