When death comes, when tragedy strikes, there is an opportunity to see something we would not have seen otherwise. Most of the time, what is revealed is not something “new”, just unexperienced or unbelieved.
John 11:40 – Jesus said to her, “didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?
If You Believe -(then) You would See the Glory of God
We must note first that Jesus references previous teaching, revelation – “Didn’t I tell you…”
Everything we hear of God, read in his Word, experience in prayer and worship, is preparing us for faith; faith that changes us, faith that moves us, faith that reveals the glory of God. Sometimes we just aren’t paying attention. We aren’t applying the truth. We are stuck in previous understanding. We are clouded by our circumstances, and he says, “didn’t I tell you, haven’t we been over this?”
Now we don’t here specifically which teaching the Master is referring to, but she did. It was so common as we walk with him, he teaches us. Most of his teaching with his disciples weren’t sit down, sermon on the mount moments, most were just along the way. So, have we been paying attention?
Go back in chapter 11. When word reached Jesus that Lazarus was sick, he told the 12, “this will not end in death… but that the Son… glorified.” He told them, “Lazarus is asleep, I’m going to wake him.” The disciples weren’t following what he was saying, so he said, “He is dead. I’m glad… so that you may believe”. Faith is the goal.
Then he arrives at Mary and Martha’s house, and Martha is saying, “if only you had been here, he wouldn’t have died.” Martha had faith, but her faith had a GPS location. If you had been HERE, you could have done something. And Jesus says, “your brother will rise again.” And Martha confesses her theological position, the right position. She says, “I know… in the resurrection.” Not everyone believed in a Resurrection. The Sadducees did NOT believe in a Resurrection which is why they were so SAD, You See. (Oh come on, laugh or groan but enjoy it) Martha had the right theological position, but don’t let your good theology get in the way of believing God for more.
And Jesus says let me stretch your good theology, YES there is a coming resurrection from the dead, but “I AM the Resurrection and the Life… The One who believe… will live… never die… do YOU believe.”
And she responds, “Yes Lord, I believe you are the Messiah”. Ok, again, good Theology, but that’s not what Jesus asked. He didn’t ask her if he were the promised anointed one, but did she believe HE was the Resurrection, The Life.
And after her theological statement, which was the wrong answer, she walks off.
Of course, the famous verse, “Jesus wept” – don’t forget, he feels, he hurts, he knows, he cares. Then we get to the tomb, v39 “Remove the stone” i.e. “I’m getting ready to do something, if you want in, if you believe.”
And Martha says, “Oh Lord… it stinks… it’s been 4 days… the opportunity is gone.” and then he says… “Didn’t I tell you… If You Believe… you will see the glory of God“
So much of our experience is shallowed by our lack of faith. What then is the “glory of God”? I love this discussion and we can spend a lot of time there, but let me paint a simple picture, a picture that God gives. The word, in Greek, is doxa, I love it. The word in simplest form means “Reputation”. So, then what is God’s reputation? Well, let’s go to the source. In Exodus 33 and 34. Moses begs to see the glory. God says, “well you can’t but I’ll show you my back, but then God does much more”. The Hebrew word for glory is the word “chabod” and in its root sense they tell me that it means “weight”. So God, covering Moses with his hand, walks by him and declares his Reputation in Exodus 34.
The Lord, The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love and truth. Maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. He will not leave the guilty unpunished.
That’s the glory of God – and Moses fell down on the ground and worshiped him. Oh the glory of Justice and Grace. Grace is not because he looks the other way for a select few, no, it is because the fullness of Justice was poured out on Christ on the cross – guilt was punished. So, for all who believe and receive it is available and life eternal is the result. If you believe, then the goodness of his glory is available, and life is the result.
v41 – they removed the stone. The action of faith is NOT a work that secures salvation, it is just to remove the obstacle of unbelieve. If they don’t move the stone, then Jesus doesn’t do the work. If they DO remove the stone, THEY still can’t raise Lazarus, but Jesus can, and it happens according to their faith. God will do what he will do, it’s just a matter of if we get to join him.
Lazarus come out… unwrap him and let him go
v45 therefore many… who … saw did believe
My belief reveals the glory of God
My belief releases God’s power in my circumstance
My belief inspires others to believe as well
What has God been telling you? Are you paying attention? If we believe, then we will see the glory of God. It may not be what you wanted or expected, but what God wants, and it is always for His Glory