The Glory of God in Resurrection
John 11, Ezekiel 37:12,13, Isaiah 11:11, Romans 9:27-29
to see the setting of this point it is necessary first to
look back to what is marked as chapter 10:
"They sought again to take him (Jesus): and he
went forth out of their hand" (John 10:39).
"The Jews took up stones again to stone him....
The Jews answered him, For a good work we stone thee not,
but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man,
makest thyself God" (John 10:31,33).
verses 7 and 8 in chapter 11:
"Then after this he saith to the disciples, Let
us go into Judaea again. The disciples say unto him,
Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone thee; and
goest thou thither again?"
the Jewish background. Repeatedly the Jews attempted to
stone Jesus. They wanted to do with Him what later they
did with His servant Stephen - just stone Him, and leave
Him there broken in body and dead. Again and again they
took up the stones to stone Him - "They took up
stones to cast at him" (John 8:59). That is the
Jewish background of chapter eleven, and it shows us very
clearly why Israel of old had to be set aside, and why
God had to have another Israel. That kind of Israel could
never serve the purpose of God! And so it was rejected.
remove the mark 'Chapter 11' and read through from
chapter ten right on, you find that this account of the
death and raising of Lazarus is set right in that
background. We must never just take some story as an
incident in itself. We must always recognize that it
relates to something else, and this dying and raising of
Lazarus is set right in that Jewish background. This was
not just a coincidence, a thing that happened by chance.
Jesus made it perfectly clear that it was in the plan of
God. If you read the story you will see that it is quite
clear from what Jesus said that this is all planned and
arranged by God. He arranged that Lazarus should die, and
Jesus is not going to interfere with that. It HAS to
happen because it stands related to some very big thing
that God is doing.
let us look at Lazarus. Lazarus is sick, and it is a
sickness for which there is no cure. I do not know how
many doctors there were within reach of Bethany, or in
Jerusalem, which was just a few miles away, but I am
quite sure that if there were any doctors about, the
sisters could have sent for one during those four days.
But whether they did or not, the doctors could have done
nothing. Lazarus just HAS to die in the plan of
God. He has a sickness for which there is no cure, and
even Jesus, who had raised the dead more than once, will
not interfere in this matter. He just positively refuses
to prevent Lazarus from dying. It tells us here that when
Jesus heard about it He stayed where He was for four
days. That, of course, made the great problem for the
sisters, and it gave something to the enemies. They said:
"Could not this man, which opened the eyes of him
that was blind, have caused that this man
also should not die?" Well, let the sister
misunderstand and the enemies misjudge! Jesus is not
going to be moved by anything, so He lets Lazarus die.
a hopeless situation? Well, what does Jesus say about it?
When He received the message from the sisters He said: "This
sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified thereby." ... This
sickness is not unto DEATH, and yet He let him
die. He evidently meant: 'This sickness is not unto death
for ever. It is not final death.' Later He said "Lazarus
is dead", and yet He said "This sickness
is not unto death". So He meant: Death is
not going to be the last word.
us note this as we go along: the spiritual knowledge of
Jesus. Although He was a long way away from Bethany, He
knew exactly when Lazarus died. No one sent Him a second
message to say that Lazarus was dead. He said to His
disciples: "Our friend Lazarus is fallen
asleep". They replied: "If he is fallen
asleep, he will recover." ... "Then Jesus
therefore said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead." Jesus
knew in His spirit that Lazarus had died, and He always
knew in His spirit when there was death and when there
was life anywhere.
Lord Jesus is in us by His Spirit, we always know whether
things are alive or dead. We may go amongst some people
and say: 'My word, there is no life here! It is dead.' Or
we may go amongst others and say: 'Well, there is life
here.' We know it in our spirit. No one has to tell us
that those people are dead or alive. And that is a mark
of the Lord Jesus.
knew the moment that Lazarus died. Thus we have the
Jewish background, the immediate connection of this
incident, that is, the connection of the old Israel. That
is why I read those Scriptures from Ezekiel and Isaiah.
When Israel was in captivity in Babylon and Assyria, the
Lord said they were dead and buried, and He said "I
will open your graves". To the
Lord they were in their graves. And then Isaiah said that
a remnant would return, and that remnant was the people
who came out of the grave of Assyria and Babylon.
notice that in Romans Paul takes that up and brings it
over into the New Testament? He quotes Isaiah's word
about a remnant and says that out of the old buried
Israel there is going to come a remnant that is
resurrected by the Lord, and that remnant is going to be
incorporated into the new heavenly Israel.
why this story of Lazarus is put right in the Jewish
setting. You notice that Jesus deliberately moves into
the hostile Jewish area. It was there that they had
repeatedly tried to stone Him, but He said to His
disciples: "Let us go into Judaea again." They
said, 'Lord, they have only recently tried to stone you
there. Why go back?' But He would not accept their
argument. He deliberately went back into the hostile area
although it was so opposed to Him. Why did He do that?
The story of Lazarus is the answer. This death and
raising of Lazarus was set over against that situation.
Right in the midst of the rejected, dead and buried old
Israel He is going to raise a new one.
might have thought that when the Lord wanted to start His
new work He would have gone to some other country. He
might have said: 'Well, I can do nothing in Jerusalem or
in Palestine. Let Me go to India, or to China, and start
all over again', but He deliberately went back into
Judaea and said: 'In the place of death I am going to
of Pentecost is wonderful for that fact alone. If ever
there was an impossible situation, it was Jerusalem on
that day! The old Israel had been rejected by God and was
dead from His standpoint. It was buried - and right there
God brought in by new birth His new Jerusalem. That is
the immediate setting and meaning of this incident.
said that Paul carries this whole thing right over into
the New Testament and says: 'God has sent the old Israel
away, but He is going to bring out of that very place of
death His new Israel. A remnant is going to be saved
through union with Jesus Christ in death and
the new Israel? What are marked chapters nine, ten and
eleven in the Letter to the Romans deal, on the one side,
with the death of the old Israel, the rejected nation.
And then the Apostle says that out of that a remnant will
be brought. But you see chapter eleven goes straight into
chapter twelve. And what is chapter twelve about? It is
about the Body of Christ. And what is that Body? It is
not Jew and Gentile brought together, but it is both,
having lost their own distinctiveness, becoming one in
Christ. In another place Paul says: "There can be
neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free...
for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus" (Galatians
3: 28). So that when the old Israel is removed and a
remnant is taken out of it, buried with Christ and raised
together with Him, it does not come back as a Jewish
remnant, but as a part of the Body of Christ. That is the
have said that that is the immediate connection. What
will help us most, however, is to see the wider
back to Lazarus. The New Testament teaches us this: that
the Cross of Jesus Christ does not cure the old man. It
crucifies him. That is the trouble with most of us. Let
us be perfectly honest about it! We are wanting the Lord
to cure our old man, to make him a good old man, and to
remove from him all his faults, all that is wrong with
him and all his sinful nature. The Cross of the Lord
Jesus does not do that. It says: 'In the sight of God the
old man is dead and buried.' "Our old man", says
Paul, "was crucified with him" (Romans
6:6). Jesus never came to any old man to heal him and
make him better, and yet we, all the days of our lives,
are wanting the Lord to make us better. Right to the end
of our lives the old man will still be the old man, but
with this difference - that God looks upon him as buried,
as in the grave, as crucified with Christ. 'In Christ
(risen) there is a new creation.'
Lazarus. Jesus would not cure Lazarus of his sickness.
And God would not cure Israel of its evil nature. He
said: 'It must die!'
only half the story, but let us be quite clear about it.
There will always be an incurable background in our life
and it will not be healed. It is there all the time and
will not be cured of its spiritual maladies. Any day, if
you like to go back on the ground of the old man, you can
commit the same sins. That is what the New Testament
teaches on the one side.
glory will be in that which stands over against the
background. It will be in what is in the foreground. We
may have a sick body, for the Lord does not always heal
sick bodies. He does sometimes, but not always, even with
the very best saints that He has had. We may have a sick
human nature - and we all know that is true. We are all
the time up against the troubles in one another. 'Oh, if
only I could forget what that brother or that sister is
in himself or herself, I would have a happy time! But,
you know, he is such an awkward man! He loves the Lord
and wants the Lord's best, but if you come up against him
naturally you don't find him a very easy man to get on
with.' Grace does make differences, but it transcends,
not eradicates. As in the case of Paul, we shall all be
saying at the end of our course: "Not that I...
am already made perfect" (Philippians 3:12).
Perhaps in our last days, before going to the Lord,
people will find some difficulties with us. I am not
saying that we ought not to lose some of those strong,
wrong ways in our lives. Grace can work miracles in our
human nature, but if you are looking for the day in this
life when you are going to be absolutely free from that
nature, you will be disappointed. Perhaps you say: 'That
is a very poor Gospel to preach!'
there is another side to it. You and I can live in the
power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with a very
sick body and with a very poor human nature. Yes, the
power of His resurrection can cover so much. The
foreground can just be the power of His resurrection. We
have to say about some people: 'Well, you know, they are
so weak physically. They know so much about sickness, and
yet, look at what the Lord enables them to do! It is a
miracle how much work they get through! They ought to
have been dead long ago, but they go on. Not in their own
strength, however. There is another strength that is over
their weakness.' Paul said: "When I am
weak, then am I strong" (II Corinthians
12:10). The power of Christ's resurrection was overcoming
his weakness. He said: "Most gladly therefore
will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of
Christ may rest upon me" (II Corinthians
12:9). He was speaking of his physical infirmities and of
the power of Christ's resurrection.
true in the physical realm is true in the spiritual. If
we live in ourselves we will give up. Oh, what a lot of
infirmities there are in our natures! We are always
carrying about a lot of spiritual weaknesses. Do you
understand what I mean? What a trouble are these natural
infirmities of ours! If ever we say 'I cannot', and then,
because we cannot, we say 'I give it up', we have
forfeited the greatest blessing of the Christian life.
Think of all that the Apostle Paul had to do and to
suffer! It was a terrible life that he had to live, from
one standpoint. He had infirmity in his body, he had
enemies wherever he went and he suffered numerous
adversities. He was in the sea a day and a night. He was
in nakedness and hunger. He had to travel on foot mile
after mile, month after month. So we can gather up all
the difficulties in that life, and if ever a man ought to
have said 'I cannot go on', that man was Paul! But what
did he say? "I can do all things in him
that strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13). Not
'I can do all things' - Paul would have said 'I can do
nothing' - but "I can do all things in
him that strengtheneth me." There was a day when
naturally he despaired of life. He said: "We
ourselves have had the sentence of death within
ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in
God which raiseth the dead" (II Corinthians 1:9
- R.V. margin).
was absolutely hopeless and helpless. He could do nothing
- and that is how we are naturally. But Jesus said that
it was "for the glory of God".
friends, the glory of God is manifested in those who in
themselves are as good as dead, but whom He enables to go
on and do much for Him. Jesus may not always heal us in
body or in nature, but He can give us divine life and
that is a great thing.
some of you have heard of God's great servant, Dr. A. B.
Simpson. He was a great believer in divine healing and
wrote a book on it. But, in spite of his belief, he said
this: 'So that no one will misunderstand my position, I
do not say that everyone has to be healed, but I do say
that everyone can know divine life, which is something
more than natural life.'
back to Lazarus. The Lord did not heal him, but He gave
him resurrection life, and that is the hope of everyone.
The Lord may want to heal you in your body, or He may not
do it. However, whether He does or does not, He does not
want us to live on our own life, but by resurrection
life. That is what Jesus meant when He said: "This
sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of
God". If you look through your New Testament you
will see that God is always glorified in resurrection.
That is where the glory of God is.
see a very weak Christian physically, but you may glorify
God in that one because of the wonderful power of divine
life. You may see a person who has many faults and lots
of things about them that you do not like, and yet there
is something more than that - there is the Lord's life in
them. While you may not glory in what they are naturally,
you can glorify God for what they are spiritually.
the real heart of this incident of Lazarus. Life out of
death is God's secret, the thing that glorifies Him most
all a lovely story and wonderful truth? Put it into
operation tomorrow morning! Say to the Lord when you get
up: 'Lord, I am no good in myself, but I am going to live
this day by the power of Your resurrection.' There may be
impossible situations inside or outside yourself, but
just say to the Lord: 'Now, Lord, you get glory today by
enabling me to live in resurrection life.' It is
something that we are to take by faith every day.
was evidently a physically weak young man. There was
something wrong with his stomach and it was constantly
troubling him. Paul said: "Lay hold on the life
eternal" (I Timothy 6:12), and spoke
of his "often infirmities" (I Timothy
5:23). If the Lord meant everyone to be healed
physically, why did Paul not heal Timothy? Paul knew that
there was something better than being healed physically.
The power of eternal life in a weak physical body is a
great testimony. "Lay hold on the life
eternal" - that is resurrection life, and it is
something that we have to do.