Video: Why Did Jesus let Lazarus Suffer?

Friday’s section of this week’s lesson asks, if God is in charge why do innocent people suffer?

The question reminded me of the story about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead that I recently read about in John 11:1-44. Let’s take a look at some of the points in this story that may help us answer this question.

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.” John 11:4 NKJV

The good news for all of us is that even though Lazarus dies that is not how the story ends! Lazarus is resurrected. Dear friend if you have recently laid a loved one to rest be assured that is not how the story ends. Death is not the final chapter. The resurrection is. still, Jesus allowed one of his best friends to get sick and die. Why? Verse 4 tells us so that God would be glorified. Are you willing to get sick and even face death if it will give God glory? This reminds me of a sermon I heard a long time ago on Hebrews 11:35-38 which mentions people who were killed for their faith. The preacher said many say they have enough faith to be healed but do we have enough faith not to be healed? What if more people became converted through our death than our life? What if our sickness glorified God more than our health? This new year I realized God does not need me to make goals and plans. He needs me to make a total surrender. This new year I rededicated my life to Jesus and told Him I was totally surrendered to Him. He can take me and do with me as He pleases in 2021. He can promote me if that will glorify His name. He can also let me get sick and die if that will glorify his name. After all, by giving my life to Jesus I am only giving what I was not going to be able to keep anyways.

So Jesus allows Lazarus to get sick and die so it would glorify God. How so? Well this is why it was so important for Jesus to let him actually die and then not show up to the home till four days afterwards. Had Jesus forsaken Lazarus and his sisters by seeming so distant? Not at all! It was all part of a magnificent plan that would bring glory to God with a happy ending for all. Remember when Jesus healed the little girl in Mark 5:21-43? He said the girl was not dead but only asleep. Everyone laughed at Him. Of course Jesus calls death sleep since the dead person is going to be resurrected. However the Sadducees and Pharisees both loved to twist the words of Jesus. The Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection especially had something at stake in the miracle Jesus performed for this little girl. Jesus’ statement that the girl was not dead but asleep could have given the Sadducees opportunity to say that even Jesus admitted Himself that the girl was only asleep and had never actually died. Thus Jesus did not actually resurrect her. I believe this is very possible because even today people love twisting the words of prophecy and Scripture to their own destruction. I believe the Sadducees very well could have used that as an opportunity to twist Jesus’ words when He said she was not dead but only asleep.

If the Pharisees and Sadducees were able to twist Jesus’ own words (Incidentally I think this is why a colleague years ago told me to use as few words as possible when talking thus reducing the opportunity for my enemies to twist my words.) to discredit His miracle of raising the girl to life, thus making many people lose faith in God this could explain why Jesus allowed Lazarus to get sick and die. Not only die but by waiting four days there is no way anyone could say he was not actually dead but just literally sleeping as they insinuated with the girl. Obviously Jesus’ plan worked because the story says,

Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.  John 11:45 NKJV

By allowing Lazarus to suffer and die millions who have faced death have been comforted with the hope of the resurrection. By allowing Lazarus to suffer and die millions have believed in Jesus as their Savior from sin and death. God wants us to prosper in heath and strength as we love and serve God with all of our health and strength. But if God could win more people to His kingdom by letting you suffer and die would you be okay with that?

The one who stands nearest to Christ will be he who has drunk most deeply of His spirit of self-sacrificing love,–love that “vaunteth not itself, . . . seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil,”–love that moves the disciple, as it moved our Lord, to give all, to live and labor and sacrifice even unto death, for the saving of humanity. –Ellen White, Conflict and Courage, Page 314.

Luke 13; Why Do Good Things Happen To Bad People?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 13:1There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 

 13:2       And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 

 13:3       I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 

 13:4       Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 

 13:5       I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 

The disciples, like many today, had a hard time rationalizing how such tragic events could happen. For some reason, to some people, it just makes it easier to deal with if we think the victims somehow deserved it. In John 9, the disciples ask if the blind man had sinned or his parents. They wanted to justify the man’s blindness by rationalizing that it was somehow deserved. Jesus said neither had sinned.

Many people can’t wait to get to heaven and ask God why all these things are allowed to happen. I think they are going to be quite surprised when God turns the table and asks us why it happened! Not everything that happens is God’s plan or His will. That is another myth. While people blame God for everything, they are going to be surprised to find out, that He is not the micro managing control freak they think He is. All things work together for good to those who love the Lord, but that does not mean God wanted all the things to happen that have happened.

 For example, I always hear people saying, that whoever is in leadership was put there by God. Really? In Hosea 8, God tells Israel that they set up kings and He knew it not and had nothing to do with it! Still, God is in control, true, but things still happen all the time that are not God’s idea.

A while back I was talking with a police officer friend of mine, who was very distressed over two of his fellow officers being shot and killed by a suspect. He said none of it makes sense to him now, but one day God will explain and it will all make sense. I told my friend that none of it makes sense to God either! It was not His idea. It was not God’s plan.

 Sin was never God’s plan but yet He has a plan to save us from sin. In the meantime while His plan is being worked out by His grace, let’s focus on His love and mercy and not try to pacify ourselves that people deserve all the bad that comes their way. Let’s remember too, that Jesus is a personal savior and allows different trials to different people. For example, I know some people who are very angry at God for allowing the WTC buildings to get hit by planes. At the same time, I have heard stories about some of the victims calling and leaving messages with their loved ones, telling them not worry because they would see them in heaven. So whether or not God should have allowed that to happen is between them and God, and I as a third party don’t need to be judging God, based on something that is between He and them and not me.

 I know I am not even scraping the surface of a very complex issue here, but all I am saying is, that if a terrorist victim can die at peace with God, then why would I, a person who was not even involved, be condemning God for it?

Many people ask, and books have been written on why bad things happen to good people. It’s all a waste of time. My Bible tells me in Psalms 14 and Romans 3 that there are none that are good. So it is impossible for bad things to happen to good people, seeing how there are no good people. I praise a God who makes good things happen to bad people! I deserve death, but Jesus has given me the gift of eternal life! Romans 6:23