With Covid-19 upsetting everything we know to be normal, you might be wondering what God’s Word has to say about things that seem hopeless. Well, there’s a story in John 11, where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, which seemed hopeless. So today we’re going to look at the meaning of Jesus’ words in John 11:4. Just as the meaning of this verse applied to the people Jesus was speaking to, it applies to us now. Dear friend, will you open your Bible and study John 11:4, “this sickness is not unto death,” with me?
My Sickness Is Not Unto Death
I was a new Christian when I first heard John 11:4 and that day, God taught me something important. God used the meaning of John 11:4 to show me that my sickness and diseases, were to be used to bring Him glory.
That day was 25 years ago and God’s been bringing this verse to life in me ever since.
Every time I feel depressed or hopeless, I remember this verse. I remember that my life is God’s, not mine. This verse reminds me that everything I do should be done to bring God glory.
So, I do my best to serve, even when I hurt. And…
When the Holy Spirit prompts me, I share the hope I have with others.
When I do the latter, my “sickness” is not unto death. It is “for the glory of God.”
Now, let’s find the meaning of John 11:4 and see how it applies to us, now.
- What feels hopeless to you right now?
This could be a sickness, disease, job, relationship, circumstance…
What is the Meaning of John 11:4?
“But when Jesus heard it he said, ‘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
This verse is Jesus’ response to a messenger who’d been sent to tell Him Lazarus was dying. What’s interesting is that verses 5 & 6 tells us Jesus loved this family but stayed where He was for two days.
Ummm, why would Jesus do that? The short answer to this is salvation.
If you skip to John 11:45 it says: “therefore many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in Him.”
Jesus, raising Lazarus from the dead, meant countless Jews were also raised from the dead. This is what Jesus was talking about when He said: “it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
What does John 11:4 mean?
Our hope in Jesus means we’ve been raised to life, like Lazarus, and are no longer dead in sin. Remember friends, a life without Jesus is the worst sickness of all – it’s death.
Now that we know the meaning of John 11:4 I want to unpack the significance of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead a bit more.
- Pray about the things you wrote down in the last question and ask God how He can be glorified in/through them.
- Then write down what you believe He wants you to do. Don’t despair if you don’t get an immediate answer. Keep praying and expecting, God will answer.
What’s the Significance of Jesus Raising Lazarus?
Jesus’ reply in John 11:4 shows He knew Lazarus would die but why’d He wait two days before going to Lazarus? Why not heal Lazarus before he died?
At first read, this seems like a horrible thing for a friend to do. The first thing we have to remember is that God’s ways are not our ways.
Our human thinking is that no one should get sick, no one should have to die. But we also have to remember that sickness and disease are a consequence of sin and that God says in Isaiah 55:8:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.”
Jesus waited because His ways were God’s ways and He was waiting for His Father to tell Him it was time to go. Jesus didn’t wait because He was testing Mary and Martha’s faith or because He wanted His beloved friend to die.
Jesus knew that waiting would bring life-giving salvation to many, many people. Remember friend, God uses everything.
This verse also symbolizes Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection; how His death brings life to all who are dead in sin. The significance of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is that when we choose Jesus, we’re also raised from the dead.
So, if you’re waiting, like Mary and Martha, for Jesus to show up, have hope.
God is never late.
Now, let’s apply this verse to today’s sickness.
- What has God raised you from?
- What are you still waiting for God to do? Or,
- What prayer requests still feel unanswered?
How John 11:4 Relates to Today's Sickness
Today the entire world has been brought to a stand-still because of Covid-19. Many people are being cautious and practicing social distancing but some are alone, trembling in isolated fear.
Dear friend, if you’re a Christian – please don’t fear, you have the hope our world needs. As the number of sick and dead continues to grow, there’s a question we need to ask ourselves.
Are our words and actions bringing God glory?
We have the vaccine the world needs. Jesus is the only vaccine that can conquer the fear of death. Because when you know Jesus, you have eternal life.
Are you sharing this death-defying vaccine with others?
As Christians, we have the opportunity to share true life with any and everyone. Maybe you’re saying “but Hannah, we’re all isolated.”
Yes, we are, but we also have the internet.
Are you using social media, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, etc. to talk with other people?
Would you ask God to show you who He wants you to engage with?
Let’s share the message of eternal life, our hope in Jesus, with all we know.
- Who do you know that doesn’t know Jesus?
- How can you encourage and share hope with them?
Consider showing these people you’re there for them by:
- buying groceries,
- sending a card,
- email them or
- do a virtual visit to just listen to them.
Pour life into your relationships and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you along the way.
Dear friends, as the day of Jesus’ return draws closer and closer, things will get harder. We have to cling tightly to our hope, trust, and faith in Jesus. Our eyes must be firmly fixed on the eternal life we’re waiting for.
For some, Covid-19 will be what brings them face-to-face with Jesus. God’s asked us to share the hope we have so everyone has the chance to choose eternal life with Jesus.
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus said:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Would you use the internet to do what Jesus commanded us to?
We don’t want you going at this alone though. Now is also a time when we need to be engaging with other Christians.
What about you friend, are you trusting in God despite our current events?
If you’re struggling, would you reach out to us here? If you don’t connect with us, please Facetime, Skype, or do Google hangouts with a Christian friend or family member.
And remember what it says in Hebrews 10:23-25:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
You don’t have to meet face-to-face to “meet together.” Find someone to virtually meet with and share your hope in Jesus.
These three posts will encourage you as you walk through our current wilderness season of social isolation.