Friday’s section of this week’s lesson asks, if God is in charge why do innocent people suffer?
The question reminded me of the story about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead that I recently read about in John 11:1-44. Let’s take a look at some of the points in this story that may help us answer this question.
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.” John 11:4 NKJV
So Jesus allows Lazarus to get sick and die so it would glorify God. How so? Well this is why it was so important for Jesus to let him actually die and then not show up to the home till four days afterwards. Had Jesus forsaken Lazarus and his sisters by seeming so distant? Not at all! It was all part of a magnificent plan that would bring glory to God with a happy ending for all. Remember when Jesus healed the little girl in Mark 5:21-43? He said the girl was not dead but only asleep. Everyone laughed at Him. Of course Jesus calls death sleep since the dead person is going to be resurrected. However the Sadducees and Pharisees both loved to twist the words of Jesus. The Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection especially had something at stake in the miracle Jesus performed for this little girl. Jesus’ statement that the girl was not dead but asleep could have given the Sadducees opportunity to say that even Jesus admitted Himself that the girl was only asleep and had never actually died. Thus Jesus did not actually resurrect her. I believe this is very possible because even today people love twisting the words of prophecy and Scripture to their own destruction. I believe the Sadducees very well could have used that as an opportunity to twist Jesus’ words when He said she was not dead but only asleep.
If the Pharisees and Sadducees were able to twist Jesus’ own words (Incidentally I think this is why a colleague years ago told me to use as few words as possible when talking thus reducing the opportunity for my enemies to twist my words.) to discredit His miracle of raising the girl to life, thus making many people lose faith in God this could explain why Jesus allowed Lazarus to get sick and die. Not only die but by waiting four days there is no way anyone could say he was not actually dead but just literally sleeping as they insinuated with the girl. Obviously Jesus’ plan worked because the story says,
Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. John 11:45 NKJV
By allowing Lazarus to suffer and die millions who have faced death have been comforted with the hope of the resurrection. By allowing Lazarus to suffer and die millions have believed in Jesus as their Savior from sin and death. God wants us to prosper in heath and strength as we love and serve God with all of our health and strength. But if God could win more people to His kingdom by letting you suffer and die would you be okay with that?
The one who stands nearest to Christ will be he who has drunk most deeply of His spirit of self-sacrificing love,–love that “vaunteth not itself, . . . seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil,”–love that moves the disciple, as it moved our Lord, to give all, to live and labor and sacrifice even unto death, for the saving of humanity. –Ellen White, Conflict and Courage, Page 314.
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made uskings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:6-10 NKJV
Remember when Jesus told Mary at the tomb that He had to go to His Father? I imagine this scene happening then. Because of sin, no one could open the seal or the dead or title to the destiny of the earth’s inhabitants. But Jesus the lamb, on the cross bought back the title to the earth and forever changed every man’s destiny if they will allow.
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 NKJV
On the cross Jesus undid all the damage Adam caused! Adam made us all sinners and Jesus saved us all! Unfortunately many will refuse this gift-but it has been given to all men! I have heard people say in order to receive it you must accept it. That is not true. Years ago, working for UPS I would deliver packages that some people sent back. They did not accept them, but they had still been delivered to them just the same. They rejected the package after having received it. On the Cross, according to Romans 5:19 everyone who was made a sinner by Adam was saved by Jesus! Please don’t throw this package away! Jesus, on the cross has forever changed your destiny! At the cross Jesus won the title and deed to your destiny!
We admire people who have the faith to heal a loved one, but what about having enough faith to just let them go to sleep? The son had faith in the miracle of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.
A few days later his mother fell asleep in Jesus, and his family is encouraging each other with the promises of the greatest miracle yet to come.
There are more Bible prophecies about the Second Coming than any other event. While many prophecies have already been fulfilled, we are certain the prophecies pertaining to the second coming are just as sure.
I understand that while we sleep, when we enter the REM (rapid eye movement) stage, we are actually very close to death. Yet each morning when we wake up, we don’t realize the miracle that has just taken place. I understand there are many mysteries about sleep that medical science is still researching. Could it be that sleep is just our “rehearsal” for the resurrection? That God is just getting us used to falling asleep and trusting Him to wake us up when it is time?
I walked into the church lobby after worship service to find a very distraught elderly lady. She has Alzheimer’s disease, and had forgotten who had driven her to church. She was afraid she was going to be left. I put my arm around her and assured her that even though she may have forgotten who had taken her to church, whoever they were, they had not forgotten her. I told her we all loved her and would not leave her alone. She began to cry like a little girl, as she told me “Thank you very much!” Sure enough her ride found her. She had forgotten them, but they remembered her.
This elderly lady felt like a little child left all alone. When we face the grave of a loved one, or even our own, do we feel like a little child left all alone? We needn’t be afraid. Our Ride to heaven will remember us even if in death we forget Him as we sleep. The same God who wakes you up every morning, the same God who remembered to create you and remembered to redeem you on the cross, is the same God responsible for waking you up when He comes again. Don’t worry, even when in death you forget Him, He won’t forget you!
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Happy Resurrection Morning! When Jesus rose from the dead so did all of our hopes and dreams. As we contemplate this incredible event here are some of my thoughts.
It’s a good thing I’m not Jesus. I would have done things so differently. First, when I had risen I would have gone straight to the leaders in Jerusalem and tell them I was back and now they were done in for not believing in me. Not Jesus, He never did that. I guess He had nothing to prove to them. Instead He appears to a former prostitute and tells her He is going to heaven to live forever as her Savior. That’s the thing about Jesus, He seemed to spend all His time impressing the wrong people if you know what I mean. How can little children, publicans and sinners help you get ahead in life? I guess getting ahead in life was not his aim. His aim was helping people.
Not only does Jesus not have anything to prove to the religious leaders of His day, but He also seemed to have a bad memory after His resurrection. He tells the women to tell Peter He is alive and will see him soon. Peter had denied Him. Jesus calls his betrayer “friend” and is given His life back so He can live His life saving people who denied Him!
Romans 6:3-6 tells us that baptism, not Sunday observance is the memorial to the resurrection. We too die to self and begin a new life. Our new life can be like Christ’s life! Imagine living your life with nothing to prove. Baseball season is starting and there are a lot of guys out there who will be hitting homeruns to prove why they should be given bigger contracts and be the league MVP at the end of the year. Some guys though, will be hitting homeruns to help their team win the game. Why do you want to hit the homeruns in your life? If you believe that Jesus died and rose again and behold the love that makes us children of God then you too, have nothing to prove. Just bask in God’s love.
If we are risen like Christ, then we too can go to all the world and tell them Jesus is risen and wants to meet us soon! This includes the Peters and Judas’ in my life. Joseph was born with an ambition to be great. After being sold as a salve in Egypt that dream died. He was given a new life in Egypt though, but He realized that the dream God had for Him was not to rule over those brothers who had hurt him, but rather to save them! He easily forgave them because after all, he was a new creature. The old man that they betrayed and denied did not exist anymore! He became a new man that had never been hurt. His dreams and ambitions were resurrected, but his dream and ambition is to save others and not himself.
When Jesus rose He brought your dreams and ambitions back to life. Everything is new again. Enjoy your new life! Tell everyone, including Peter about your new life!
Here is a collection of Easter devotionals.