The Impact of Jesus on Seven Men Day 6: Lazarus
“So the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ 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 11:3-4, ESV)
Sometimes, there are circumstances in life during which we are being used to speak to someone else, or someone else is being used to speak to us. The story of my grandfather, Kurt Petterson, and his salvation is a great example of this. The full story is linked here. During his time in the Navy, the Lord was speaking to Kurt. One soldier, Louie Dodd, was particularly interested in seeing him saved.
After speaking to Kurt several times and not hearing of his salvation, Louie said, “Kurt, I am praying for you. Maybe God will have to bring a crisis into your life to awaken you concerning your need of God’s salvation.” One day, as mail was being passed out to the soldiers on board the ship, Kurt received a letter from his twin sister, Linda. The letter said that his Uncle Jim, a man who was a father figure to him, had suddenly passed away.
Kurt took the letter and went to find Louie. After Louie read the letter, he gave his condolences and reminded Kurt that he had been praying for him, and this situation was likely being used by God to speak to him about his soul. It was on that night in January 1961 that Kurt Petterson was saved by the grace of God, after being spoken to by a crisis in his own life.
In John 11, the Lord Jesus used the death of a friend, Lazarus, to speak to many. The sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, sent to the Lord to tell Him that His friend was sick. When He heard the news, He decided to stay where He was for two more days. Why would He do this? Why not go tend to His friend who was sick? “Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him’” (v.14).
Martha also wondered why her brother was allowed to die. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live’” (John 11:25). At this point, the Lord Jesus had already turned water into wine, healed the royal official’s son, healed the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda, fed the 5,000, walked on water, restored the sight of a blind man, et cetera. The Lord planned to raise Lazarus from the dead, which would bring more glory to God than if He healed him from his sickness.
“When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’ Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him” (John 11:43-45).
It was through the death of his uncle that Kurt Petterson was saved, and it was through the death and resurrection of Lazarus that many believed in the Lord Jesus. Perhaps you feel that the Lord is speaking to you today, or even that the Lord is using you to speak to someone else. What an honor it is to be used by Him! It doesn’t even have to be through suffering that we can be used by Him.
I was just talking to a close friend the other day about how impressed I am at the ability of some to find a way to bring any conversation back to the gospel. It was a conviction to both of us that we need to seek out more opportunities to be used by the Lord in the sharing of the glorious news of the gospel that was once shared with us. May we each desire to be used by the Lord for His ultimate glory.
“How I praise Thee, precious Savior,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.
Channels only, blessed Master,
But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.”
Mary E. Maxwell