Love overcomes evil by doing good, and one of the marks of genuine love is that it is generous. Paul spells out what this looks like in Romans 12:9-21: Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not...
I have been reading through the Gospel of John, and I have been reflecting on two stories that particularly highlight the glory of Jesus. And I’d like to share them with you also.
Story #1: Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
This story is recorded in John 9. You may recognize the conversation between Jesus and His disciples as they saw a blind man:
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered. “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:2-3)
Jesus then goes on to heal the man by anointing his eyes with mud and telling him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. He does this is able to see again!
This causes quite the scene for people who knew him. Everyone knew he was blind, and now they are trying to account for how he has come to see again. The Pharisees catch wind of this going on, and so they go to question him. The once-blind man told them Jesus healed him, but they don’t believe it.
The Pharisees don’t even believe that he was ever blind! So they go to the man’s parents’ house, and his parents do confirm that the man was born blind (John 9:18-23).
The Pharisees simply do not believe and question the man again. They say, “We know that this man [Jesus] is a sinner.” And the blind man responded, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” And the man continued on to testify to the Pharisees, saying:
“If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:33)
Story #2: Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead
We all may know that story of Jesus’s friend Lazarus. Lazarus died, and Jesus resurrected him from the dead. Clearly, we can already see some of the similar theological implications between being changed from blind to seeing and being raised from death to life.
But what struck me in my reading of the Gospel of John this time around was John 11:4. Now, Jesus had just been told that Lazarus was very ill. And Jesus responded:
“This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4)
Compare that to John 9:3! Both the blind man and Lazarus went through suffering so that God would be glorified.
More to the Story
Now, there’s more to the story. If we jump to John 12, we see that Jesus is with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus again, and Jesus and Lazarus are “reclining . . . at the table” (12:2). What a remarkable conversation they must have been having!
Remember what has happened up to this point: Lazarus gets ill, dies, and Jesus raises him from the dead in front of a large crowd. That large crowd, upon hearing that Jesus is back with Lazarus, is keen to see what will happen next. And they “continued to bear witness” about Jesus’s miracle (12:17).
The Pharisees are interested too because they still do not believe Jesus is the Messiah. They even sentence Lazarus to death because of his involvement with Jesus (John 12:10). Poor Lazarus!
When Jesus then arrives in Jerusalem the next day, a large crowd “took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, ‘Hosanna!'” (John 12:13). Why did they go there to meet him? Well, because they heard from all their friends and neighbors that Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead (12:18).
And the Pharisees could not stop people from praising Jesus’s name. They had to listen to it. They had to hear it. But they rejected him still, saying, “Look, the world has gone after him” (12:19).
You’ll Be Surprised at How God Uses Your Suffering
These stories show us that you never know how the sufferings in your life will work to glorify Jesus. If the blind man was never blind, then his friends and family would have never known the glory of Jesus Christ. If Lazarus had never died, the large crowd would not have shown up to begin what we now celebrate as Palm Sunday.
But these stories also show us that your sufferings may not touch the person you think is most likely to see the glory of Jesus. The Pharisees had read the Scriptures, they knew the signs to look for, it was their whole life to wait for the Messiah–and they rejected Him.
So, Christian, pray for others. Pray that God would use your trial, your suffering, to bring others to know His glory.