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4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”


After Jesus heard the report of Lazarus’ illness from his sisters, He made an important point.

4 When Jesus heard that, He said,

At the hearing of the report, Lazarus had not yet died. It is evident, however, that Jesus knew he would die before they would return to Bethany.

This sickness is not unto [with a view to] death,

Jesus’ statement conveys the idea that Lazarus’ death was not permanent. He looked beyond Lazarus’ physical death. Neither did He convey that Lazarus would continue to live. The idea is that death would not be the ultimate outcome. The true object was the glory of the Father and the Son.

In John 9:3 Jesus denied that the condition of the man born blind was due to his sin; rather, his blindness was to manifest itself in God’s glory.

but for [on behalf of] the glory of God,

The Father would be glorified by Lazarus’ death. Sickness and death are sometimes the will of God. Lazarus’ death constituted an occasion for God to reveal His glory. This glory is especially seen in His Son.

“For” means on behalf of. Lazarus’ sickness was for the purpose of revealing God’s glory (Jn 11:40). The glory of God here is His activity, not His praise.

that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Both the Father and the Son would co-equally be glorified by the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 9:3). The Father would particularly glorify Jesus through the death and resuscitation (bringing back to life) of Lazarus. God was to reveal Himself in a special way by raising Lazarus. This resurrection would clearly demonstrate God’s glory through the Son’s action. The issue here is the manifest glory of God. Whatever honor the Father demands for Himself, He wants for His Son (Jn 5:23).


God sometimes allows pain so that He will be ultimately glorified in it.


The purpose of creation is God-centeredness, not man-centeredness. Man is not the reason that the universe exists. Jesus let Lazarus die for a purpose. He did this in the face of mawkish sentiment.

God’s ultimate purpose of creation is His own glory. He is the God of glory (Ps 29:3; Ac 7:2) and the King of glory (Ps 24:7-10). He is the Father of glory (Eph 1:17). Jesus is the Lord of glory (1 Co 2:8). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of glory (1 Pe 4:14). God does not share His glory with anyone else (Is 42:8; 48:11).

The purpose of Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead was not to comfort his sisters or even to restore him to life. Jesus performed this miracle to give glory to God (Jn 11:4, 40). This miracle also pointed to the glory of Jesus’ deity (Jn 11:25-27).