Raising Lazarus for the Glory of God

Shared on March 17, 2024

The child of God should live a life that glorifies God. What does it mean to live for the glory of God? Join Pastor McCrary for this week’s Sunday School lesson on the death and resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus was used to glorify God through the miracle done by Christ. What was it that was accomplished through the raising of Lazarus?


I concluded last week’s lesson by saying that the power of Christ should not be doubted.  Jesus had healed the woman with an issue of blood and brought back Jairus’ daughter from the dead.  Yet, there were many that doubted Jesus was the Son of God.  In our lesson today, we take a look at one last miracle of Jesus that should have erased all doubt— the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

The Raising of Lazarus

In last week’s lesson, I briefly mentioned the death of Lazarus.  Jesus and the disciples had been resting beyond the Jordan to a place where John the Baptist once used (John 10:40).  Jesus and the disciples went to this location after there were efforts to try to stone Jesus for proclaiming to be the Son of God (John 10:31-39).

For the glory of God

At that time, scripture tells us that Lazarus had become very ill (John 11:1).  Both Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus and friends of Jesus, sent word to Christ (John 11:2-3).  When Jesus heard of Lazarus’ sickness, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God (John 11:4).

That’s a pretty interesting statement to make, right?  What did Jesus mean?  What is the glory of God?  Why was Lazarus sick for the glory of God?

Now, when I think about the glory of God, I first think about the Shekinah cloud of God’s glory.  The Shekinah cloud of God’s glory represents His presence.  The Shekinah cloud appears through scripture, especially throughout the children of Israel’s journey in the wilderness.  

From there I begin to think about God’s glory through the beauty of His love and grace.  In John 15:8, Jesus said that God will give what we ask so that we may glorify Him by the fruit we bear.  There are many that are unable to recognize the glory of God and so His glory is manifested through works that can be perceived.  

So, what is the glory of God?  I believe the glory of God to be His revelationsAnything that is done or used for the glory of God serves the purpose of revealing God to the world.  Lazarus’ death would serve the purpose of revealing God, through Christ, to the world.

It is important that I mentioned God being revealed through Christ at the raising of Lazarus.  As I mentioned at the start, while there were many who believed in Jesus, there were more that did not see Jesus as the Messiah.  The raising of Lazarus from the dead would be the greatest chance that some would have to accept Jesus as their Savior.

Erasing all doubt

So, when Jesus approached the tomb and had the stone taken away, we will see that Martha was with him (John 11:38-39).  Mary was on the ground weeping away from the tomb (John 11:32).  

Martha, ever since Jesus had arrived at Bethany, was with Him and spoke to Him.  In this brief passage, Martha makes a very important statement about the raising of Lazarus.  Martha said to Jesus, “by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

With the daughter of Jairus, Jesus brought her back from death almost immediately after she died.  So, the doubters could have questioned whether or not Jesus really brought her back from death.  However, with the raising of Lazarus, Jesus would erase all doubt.

There could be no questions about the raising of Lazarus as he was clearly dead.  Scripture shows that Jesus could have returned earlier to save Lazarus but He purposefully delayed (John 11:6-7).  Why did Jesus delay?  

For the glory of God!  Jesus said to Martha, “Did I not say that if you would believe you would see the glory of God (John 11:40)?”  Christ, His power and authority, needed to be revealed to those who were still doubting Him.  

This is not to say that Martha was one of the doubters because she did not doubt.  However, there were many there that were weeping that did not believe.  In fact, quite a few made the short journey from Jerusalem to grieve with Martha and Mary.  So, there would be many that would have the opportunity to believe.

Jesus prayed to His Father giving Him thanks for the opportunity to make believers of the doubters that stood by to witness (John 11:41-42).  After saying these things, Jesus cried out into the cave where Lazarus was buried, “Lazarus, come forth!”  Lazarus, still wrapped tightly in his graveclothes, came forth (John 11:44).  There could be no doubt.

The scripture that our lesson covers ends at this point but I at least want to share with you the next verse.  John tells us that many of the Jews that came to Mary witnessed the raising of Lazarus.  After witnessing what Jesus did, they believed in Him (John 11:45).

Glory through afflictions

I believe that it is very important for this scripture to be shared with the telling of Lazarus being raised from the dead.  Why is that?  Because it gives meaning to Jesus saying that Lazarus’ death severed to the glory of God.  Lazarus did not die for no reason.

I have come to view our afflictions, even those to death, serving the purpose of glorifying the Lord.  Some may disagree with me on this thought, but I do believe this to be true.

As many of you might know, from 2016-2021 I underwent routine dialysis treatment from kidney failure.  I was 31 years old when my kidneys failed.  At that time, I thought it was all over for me and I could not understand why God allowed such to happen.  (This was the consequence of poor health choices but I didn’t think such choices would catch up to me at a young age.)

I began to realize during those 5 years that through my afflictions, I was a living testimony of God’s glory.  I remember when I began preaching at 26 how I felt like I didn’t have a testimony to share as the older preachers.  God certainly gave me a testimony to share.  

Don’t look down on yourself in your afflictions.  God is always with you and working through you and your afflictions.  What I mean by this is that through your afflictions you are able to glorify the Lord.  You never know who you help encourage to come to God through your courage and faith. 

Even in those afflictions to death, there are many that turn their life over to God because they witness the faith of a dying loved one.  Some of the most powerful lessons we learn in life, we learn after one has left this world.  

So, I hope what you take away from today’s lesson today is that the glory of God can be seen.  God’s glory is still present in the world today if you look for it.  In fact, you may even see God’s glory through the work that He is working through you.

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