May 20, 2022

JD Wilhelm
“So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 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.””
John 11:3-4

The sisters Martha and Mary send word to Jesus that Lazarus is sick. He has fallen ill in some unexplained form or fashion. Interestingly, the sisters just simply inform Jesus of Lazarus’ illness. They don’t request anything of Jesus. But behind their words is this sense of expectation. The words create this sort of dramatic tension in the story. Will Jesus come to heal Lazarus? Jesus’ response is odd in a sense. He turns the attention away from the illness and instead turns it into an opportunity for revelation.

This illness will not lead to death because Jesus will bring life to Lazarus. The point is not the act of healing itself. It is to give glory to God. The gift of life that Jesus brings to Lazarus will reveal the glory of God. That is, in Lazarus’ healing, the character and identity of God will be made known. What the people present don’t realize is the implications of what Jesus is saying. There is an irony to his words. God’s purpose made manifest in the person of Jesus is the gift of life for all humankind, not just Lazarus. The glorification of the son of God is thus reference to Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. While the illness will not lead to Lazarus’ death, it will lead to Jesus’.