You might be familiar with the story of Lazarus—because of its ending. But its beginning could be a chapter from our own lives: a family, connected to each other and to Jesus by love. Sickness. Fear. Worry, and prayer.
Now a certain man was ill. In chapter 11 of John’s gospel, the man is named Lazarus. His two sisters send word to Jesus, their friend: “Lord, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus hears it, he says: “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
But Lazarus dies. Jesus seems to delay. And by the time he makes his way to town, Lazarus is in a tomb. The dead man’s family greets Jesus with mixed emotions.
Martha runs to him and cries: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Mary rises from her grief, she says the same thing. You could have changed this. Deeply moved, Jesus grieves alongside them—causing onlookers to whisper: If he opened the eyes of a blind man, couldn’t he have done something here?
Jesus hears and feels it all—the pain, the grumbling, the frustration and doubt.
“Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” Jesus says. “Lazarus, come out.” And, as you probably know, Lazarus does.
The story of Lazarus is amazing—but it’s also difficult to understand. The ending doesn’t seem to match our endings. Jesus seems to know the whole thing from the beginning and claims that Lazarus’ sickness is for the glory of God. Is that the kind of glory we want in our life?
Where do hardship and glory intersect? Does one magnify the other? Are we willing to allow difficulty in our lives to be a place for God’s glory to shine?
When their brother died, Mary and Martha needed a light in their darkness. Their questions and their pain were part of the experience of glory that unfolded in Bethany that day. In a dramatic yet simple way, the Lazarus story reminds us that life is hard—and that Jesus cares. It reminds us to keep believing that we will see his glory, though perhaps not in the time or way we imagined.
Through their tears, the people see a miracle—a miracle that causes many to believe. Jesus’ words prove true. God’s glory shows up in such a powerful way that for a man named Lazarus, death itself is undone. And like the similarities, the implications of Lazarus’ story extend far beyond one family.
Today: Where do you see glory in the story of Lazarus? What encouragement do you take from it, and what do you find hard to understand? Think of a dark situation in your life, or the life of someone you love. Ask God to help you see this situation with his eyes. Pray that you will see something new—that you will see his glory.
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Meditations written by Meghan Blosser.