A couple of weeks ago, I shared some reflections on John 11 and the relationship of God’s glory and God’s love. There is another connection to highlight, namely God’s glory and saving faith.
Jesus was quite transparent with his disciples. In what seems like a contradiction, Jesus both weeps over the death of Lazarus because of His love for him and at the same time is glad that he was not there to heal him of his illness. Why was he glad? Certainly it is not so that he could get blamed for failing to show up on time which happened by Martha (v. 21), Mary (v. 32), and the Jews (v. 37). Jesus’ reasoning was clear – “so that you may believe.”
Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus is passionate about strengthening the faith of His disciples and producing saving faith in unbelievers through His many “signs” (miraculous acts unveiling His identity as the Messiah). As He prayed to the Father, Jesus said, “I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe you sent me” (v. 42). What happened as a result of Jesus bringing a dead man back to life after four days in the tomb? “Many of the Jews who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him” (v. 45). Seeing the glory of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ produced faith in the sinner’s heart.
This was a reality the religious leaders could not ignore. They knew the more Jesus performed these “many signs” (thus revealing His glory), the more sinners would be saved by faith in him. They confessed, “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him” (v. 48). The religious leaders knew this, but sometimes I wonder if we really believe this. Do we really believe the glory of God seen through the person and work of Jesus Christ produces saving faith in raising sinners from death to life?
For Lazarus, the story did not end with linen strips removed and the stench of death gone. In the next chapter, the formerly dead man is sharing a meal with Jesus. John wrote that “large crowds” came not only to see Jesus but also to see Lazarus. When you become a trophy of God’s triumphant power, you will face the onslaught of the enemy and be a powerful display of God’s amazing grace. This is what happened with Lazarus. Not because of anything he had done, but specifically because of what Jesus did in and through him, the religious leaders were seeking to kill him (formerly a dead man), and at the same time, “on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus” (12:9-10).
When the glory of God is on display in your life, you should not expect anything else. When Jesus is seen and savored, the devil will do everything to destroy this miraculous work of glory-begotten belief in God. When Jesus is seen and savored, the glory of God will be seen by others and saving faith will be born in their hearts as they come to savor the transforming grace of Jesus Christ.
That’s what I want. I long for it to be a commentary of my life that “on account of him many were going away and believing in Jesus.” But I realize if this happens, it will happen only because the glory of God had been seen through the transforming work of the Jesus in my life.
Lord, may my life require a gospel explanation for the change you’ve wrought in me,
and may your miracle-working power open blind eyes to see your glory and believe.