John 11:14 “Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.
John 11:35 “Jesus Wept”
What is Jesus glad about in verse 14? That “he was not there” Glad that he was not there to prevent Lazarus’ death! Not there to heal him of his sickness! Jesus says he is glad he was not there. Let this verse alone sink into your theology. God has something greater in mind for us than only healing or even preventing us from dying – Something so much greater in his mind that he says something as seemingly calloused as “I am glad I was not there” to heal and prevent death.
So what is this thing Jesus so passionately wants for us?
Let’s look at some texts in the passage.
4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “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.”
Answer number 1 is that somehow the illness that will result in Lazarus dying temporarily has been brought about FOR the glory of God and the FOR the glory of the Son.
And the American church goes “Huh??!!”
It is a non-sequitur.
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
So Jesus BECAUSE he loves Martha and Mary and Lazarus – does NOT rush to their aid to prevent Lazarus’ death.
What’s up, Jesus? Why aren’t you rushing to save your friend? How can you say you love them if you won’t even deliver Lazarus from death?
What could possibly be more needed than deliverance from death?
Back to the text.
Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.
Another clue here – “that you may believe”
So we have the death is “for the glory of God” “So that you may believe.”
These two things Jesus esteems as greater than being healed from an illness so severe that Lazarus dies.
I submit that they remain uppermost in the mind of God in relation to our lives as well. God’s highest purpose for us is that we would delight in Him – in his beauty and majesty and glory. To embrace him is to see him as Sovereign King, Gentle Shepherd, the Glorious one – He is Ruler of All and Infinitely Good. When God reveals himself as glorious and we embrace him for all that he is – that is the essence of what it means to believe. It is the “Seeing and Savoring” of Jesus Christ as our ultimate satisfaction.
Back to the text.
“Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Too late Jesus – I know what was best for me here and it was to have my brother alive and with me – but you didn’t come in time. You were too late.
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
Jesus says Lazarus will rise again but Martha remains focused on her perceived highest need of having Lazarus with her NOW… and misses that the one who stands before her is her highest need and has complete authority over life and death.
Jesus returns to his focus on his people’s highest need.
Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?
Then Mary comes with loudly wailing, likely hired, mourners.
Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
The same accusation from Mary – Why didn’t you come Jesus you are too late. Even Jesus closest friends do not believe that God rules even over death. They believe this has happened because he was not fast enough or concerned enough about their situation.
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.”
The greek translated “deeply moved” is embrimáomai (from 1722 /en, “engaged in” and brimaomai, “to snort”) – properly, snort like an angry horse; (literally) “snort (roar) with rage” (BAGD) which expresses strong indignation, i.e. deep feeling that is moved to sternly admonish (A-S).
Strongs defines it: “Definition: I snort (with the notion of coercion springing out of displeasure, anger, indignation, antagonism), express indignant displeasure with some one; I charge sternly.”
Then it says Jesus Wept
“the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Then Jesus, deeply moved again”
Deeply moved or “snort with anger” again from Jesus when the Jews also doubt Jesus.
Then the entourage heads up to the tomb and Jesus says to take away the stone but Mary says,
“Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
Jesus again pointing what he knows is our ultimate need to see the glory of God and to believe.
And then he prays this prayer in case we still have missed the point.
Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
God does not promise in this life no suffering or no death – nor does he think of these as our primary need. His goal above all other goals is that we would glory in HIM in the midst of hardship because HE alone is deserving of worship.
So why did Jesus weep?
I don’t think that it was merely him joining into the distress of Mary and Martha and the Jews.
I think Jesus is fixed on another issue namely the unbelief of his friends. They are understandably but wrongly focused on Lazarus being alive as their soul-satisfying need and have missed their much higher need and the provision that is Jesus Christ. How often do we too miss that above all else we need Jesus and that he is more than sufficient though all around my soul gives way?