God Loves Us in Order to Display His Glory
Here we have the account of the most dramatic miracle Jesus ever performed (with the exception of his own resurrection, of course). And the purpose of the miracle is clearly stated by Jesus: It is not to bring Lazarus back to life and end the suffering of Mary and Martha, nor is it to impress the people. Jesus’ purpose in this miracle is “for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” A second purpose of the miracle is so that his disciples may believe, or be further confirmed and strengthened in their faith.
So the sisters send a message to Jesus saying, “He whom you love is ill.” Now a most intriguing line is recorded in the Bible at this place: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” Did you notice that? Jesus loved that family, so or therefore, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer where he was! If you heard that a dear friend of yours was ill such that you knew he was near death, would you not immediately pack your bags and get to his bedside as soon as possible? But Jesus intentionally waited until Lazarus was dead. Jesus knew exactly what he was going to do.
Now at this juncture, there are some legitimate questions one might ask – questions concerning personal anguish and suffering. What of poor Mary and Martha who had to watch their brother die? When Jesus finally does arrive, they say to him, almost with reproach, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!” Granted, Jesus is not unconcerned about human suffering; indeed, most of his miracles involved healing someone who was suffering. But, as we discovered at the very beginning of this account, his raising of Lazarus will not be about Lazarus or Mary or Martha; this miracle, as well as every other miracle Jesus performed that had the effect of eliminating human suffering, would be about magnifying God and glorifying the Son of God.
And this is the purpose of our lives. Paul said: “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s,” and “… who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him (Romans 14:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:10). For us then, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). His glory is our salvation.