How many times have you argued with God about events in your life, those things that God seemed to do wrong? Perhaps things at work did not go as you wanted; the promotion did not come through as expected; or you served on a committee and the committee just would not see it your way?
Remember Jonah when God told him to go to Nineveh? He did not want Nineveh to repent. Jonah wanted God to do it his way.
Or, how about Cain? He made an offering of the fruit he had grown and he thought God should accept, but God did not accept it because it was not what God required.
Or, the rich young ruler that came to see Jesus about eternal life? He kept the law and lived an upright life but he accumulated wealth that he did not want to share. He went away sad because Jesus wanted him to get rid of his wealth.
Or, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? They wanted to do things their way and not the way God told them. And when they had sinned and saw they were naked, they covered their nakedness with leaves but God covered it with the skin of a sacrificed animal.
Human nature wants us to be in control of everything. Society pushed the idea of controlling our future; we should have whatever makes us happy or famous. But God wants us to develop self-control. In other words, God wants us to control our behavior and not the behavior of other people or circumstances.
John 11:32-44 is an illustration of what was going to happen in the life of Jesus. Jesus was going to die, then be raised again from the dead. Jesus wanted to show his glory to Mary.
Jesus could have kept Lazarus from dying, just as God could have kept Jesus from dying. However, because of God’s love for us, Jesus had to die. The penalty for sin has always been death.
Can we identify with Mary in this text? Mary was upset with Jesus for not coming sooner. If Jesus had been there, he could have kept her brother from dying. She wanted it her own way.
Even the mourners that were with Mary commented that Jesus was able to heal people, surely he could prevent death. They wanted it their way.
Jesus however, wanted to show Mary the Glory of God, but Mary was reluctant to allow Jesus to show her. Jesus wanted to show Mary that God had a plan for eternal life, a life after our earthly body dies. Mary said: “..by this time there is a bad odor…” Mary was more concerned about Jesus not being there in time to save Lazarus, than she was about seeing God’s glory.
Sometimes we are more concerned about what God did not do for us than we are in seeing what He is doing for us.
How can we see God’s glory in our life? For us to see God’s glory, we need to do what Mary had to do. We need to see it God’s way rather than our own way.
John tells us about a time when Lazarus died. Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus and was the brother of Mary. When he passed away, word was sent to Jesus about his death. However, Jesus waited four days before going to Bethany where Mary and Lazarus lived.
When Jesus did go to Bethany, Mary was very upset with him for waiting so long to come. Jesus wanted to show Mary the “glory of God”, but Mary was more concerned about having her own way.
The story goes like this:
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:32-44(NIV)
In this passage, there are seven statements that Jesus made that helped Mary see God’s glory. These seven statements can also help us see God’s glory.
- “Where have you laid him?” (v 34) Jesus wanted to know where Lazarus was buried. He wanted to know where Mary had placed her anxiety regarding Lazarus. Likewise, Jesus wants to know where we have placed those things that bother us or hinder our Christian walk. He wants to take our anxiety away. He wants to know where our anxiety is because he cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.)
- “Take away the stone” (v 39) For Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead, needed to have access to Lazarus. Jesus needed access to Mary’s anxiety. For us to see the glory of God, we also need to give Jesus access to our anxiety. He will not force us to give our anxiety to him. He will not force us to go against our will because He loves us and has given us the ability to make decisions. God does not want to control us like a person would control a puppet.
- “…if you believe…” (v.40). Jesus tells Mary that if she believed, she would see the Glory of God. Jesus also wants us to believe in him and the power that God has given him. We can have all the knowledge of God and His word, but unless we believe, we will not see God’s glory.
- “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” (v 41) Jesus was talking to God and thanking God for hearing his prayer. Jesus is demonstrating the importance of the communion between Him and His Father. Jesus is recognizing that he can raise Lazarus from the dead only if the Father grants him permission. (You will notice that Lazarus was still dead at this point. Jesus wants us to thank God for what He is going to do and to recognize where his power comes from … even before he gets the results. We too need to give God the credit for what he is going to do to our anxiety.)
- “Lazarus, come out” (v.43). Jesus, believing that God answered his prayer and Lazarus was going to live again. Jesus was also illustrating what would happen to him in the near future. He was going to die and be raised again. Just as God took control of Lazarus’s death and resurrection, he was going to take control of Jesus death and resurrection. Likewise, God can take control of our anxiety. We will see God’s glory.
- “Take off the grave clothes…” (v.44) When Lazarus came out of the tomb, he was still bound by the grave clothes. Unless Lazarus was freed from the grave clothes, he was not free from the consequences of his death. When God takes our anxiety away, He wants us to rid ourselves of our sinful nature. He does not want us to be controlled by our sinful nature — our grave clothes. He wants us to be controlled by our faith in Him.
- “… and let him go.” (v.43) Jesus wants Lazarus freed from the grave clothes that are binding him. Jesus also wants us to be free from our old nature. Jesus wants us to be freed from our old nature and to live lives filled with the Holy Spirit. He wants us to have an abundant life filled with His glory.
Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18-20(NIV)
God is asking us to look for His glory and not our glory.
In summary, here are the seven steps to help us see God’s glory:
- Identify our anxiety – (or anything that prevent us from seeing God’s glory.)
- Give it to God
- Believe that He will remove it
- Thank Him for removing it
- Surrender to His Lordship
- Crucify the Old Nature
- Celebrate God’s glory by being filled with the spirit
Our anxiety can be anything that prevents us from seeing God’s glory. It can be selfishness, as was the case of Mary. She wanted Jesus to things her way. It could also be anger, control, worry, self-pity, business, or any other situation that make your blood pressure rise. Whatever your situation is, God wants to show you his glory. Following these seven steps will help you see the glory of God.
NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com.