Then said Jesus unto them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe.” – John 11:14-15
Jesus loved Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus: it is a happy thing where a whole family live in the love of Jesus. They were a favoured trio, and yet, as the serpent came into Paradise, so did sorrow enter their quiet household at Bethany. Lazarus was sick. They all felt that if Jesus were there disease would flee at His presence; what then should they do but let Him know of their trial? Lazarus was near to death’s door, and so his tender sisters at once reported the fact to Jesus, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick.” Many a time since then has that same message been sent to our Lord, for in full many a case He has chosen His people in the furnace of affliction. Of the Master it is said, “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses,” and it is, therefore, no extraordinary thing for the members to be in this matter conformed to their Head.
Oftentimes this sickness of the Lord’s loved ones is for the good of others. Lazarus was permitted to be sick and to die, that by his death and resurrection the apostles might be benefited. His sickness was “for the glory of God.” Throughout these nineteen hundred years which have succeeded Lazarus’ sickness all believers have been getting good out of it, and this afternoon we are all the better because he languished and died. The church and the world may derive immense advantage through the sorrows of good men: the careless may be awakened, the doubting may be convinced, the ungodly may be converted, the mourner may be comforted through our testimony in sickness. ~ C.H. Spurgeon