We marvel at the scene of the tomb of Lazarus. Rightly so. How often is divine power on such spectacular display? The impact of Jesus raising dead Lazarus is evidenced by the thinking of Jewish leaders to kill Lazarus. His being alive was bringing so many people to faith in Jesus that these men felt threatened (John 12:11-12).
Perhaps lost in all the excitement of the dead coming to life (and that is pretty exciting) is an insight into the flawed thought processes of man; flaws to which we are all subject. Many of the people present in Bethany on the occasion of Jesus’ arrival after Lazarus had died, were saying, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?” (John 11:37). They had reference to the healing of the man born blind (John 9). Their reasoning was correct in that one who could heal the blind, as Jesus did, would also have the power to heal the sick who might otherwise die because of their malady. Their question, though, carried with it a sense of expectation. They saw the death of Lazarus as a very sad and troubling event that Jesus, given his divine power, could have prevented; and to their thinking, should have prevented.
The truth is that just because we know what Jesus (and God) can do, does not also mean that we know what He should do. We can see lots of bad things in our world: evil, pain, suffering, unrighteousness, injustice, etc. We also know of what God is capable. He can create something (actually, everything) out of nothing. He knows the future every bit as well as the past. He can heal sickness, resurrect the dead, stop storms, punish the wicked, remove evil people, etc., etc. In short, He can solve every problem, judge every evil, answer every wrong, remove every obstacle, and restore every loss. What is more, not only do we know He can, we think He should.
Truthfully, most of men’s complaints against God are because He does not do what we think He should do, the way we think He should do it, and when we think it should be done. Hmmmm.
The greatness of God is not limited to the fact that He can do infinitely more than we can do (as He has sufficiently demonstrated many times). His greatness extends even to His wisdom, His judgment, and His motivation. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Rom. 11:33).
Before we are too quick to criticize God for His actions or perceived failure to act (remember when we’ve said, “Well why doesn’t God just…?” or “Why didn’t God …?”), we would do well to remember that not only is His power infinitely greater than mine, but so is His wisdom.
I cannot do what He can do, neither can I know what He should or should not do.
South College church of Christ (2009 bulletin)