Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Many of us know this story well. The sisters of Lazarus went to their friend who they knew could perform miracles because their brother was ill. They understood the close relationship that Jesus had with this man, and they surely expected their Lord to heal him. The next several verses indicate that Jesus did not go with these women but waited several days. In fact, He did not arrive at their home until their brother already had died. Yet, Jesus had made this statement indicating that the sickness of Lazarus would not be unto death. One must wonder whether Mary and Martha replayed those words in their minds once they saw that Lazarus clearly had died.
The fact is that Lazarus indeed died. He was placed in a tomb, where he had been laid to rest four days prior. [v. 39] If the man had not been dead before being placed in that tomb, he certainly would have died in there over those days without food, water, and air. This death seems to totally contradict what Jesus said about this illness because his friend actually died, but that physical death would not be the end. God was doing something different here. Once Jesus called Lazarus forth, and Lazarus exited the tomb alive, his sisters might have thought of those words again. Their Lord had comforted them by telling them that their brother would not die, and he appeared to do so, but those words turned out to be true.
When God speaks, we can rely on those words. Perhaps He has given you a promise of something to come, but you have seen the complete opposite begin to unfold. Maybe God’s promises for you look like nothing but impossibilities. Mary and Martha did not respond to their brother’s death by praising God and cheering with joy in reliance on the words of Christ. Their response was based on the real loss they experienced, but their focus should have been on the Lord’s words. When we face the same type of circumstance, let us rest on his word and not what we see. Father, continue to speak to us your will for our lives, and help us to rely on those promises when things seem otherwise.