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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

The 21 Day Experiment - Day 11: So That You May Believe

by Marilynn Chadwick

It is for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it. John 11:4 (NIV)

Believe. To believe means to accept something as true. What you believe impacts your thoughts, feelings, actions—and ultimately, the course of your entire life. "What do you believe?" just might be the most important question you'll ever answer.

If you’re with us for the 21-Day Experiment, you’re halfway through John’s Gospel! It’s not too late to jump on board. Go here to read day one for a few simple ground rules.

In John 11, the word believe is used eight times. Here we find two of Jesus's dearest friends, Mary, and Martha, grief-stricken over the death of their beloved brother Lazarus. Can you imagine their hurt and confusion? They knew Jesus could have saved Lazarus if he'd just gotten there sooner. They had seen him heal many times. The disciples were also perplexed — especially when Jesus told them, "Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe" (vv. 14,15).

When Jesus finally arrives—four days late—Martha cries out, "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died!" Jesus reminds her that her brother will rise again. "I know he will rise again at the resurrection," replies Martha. I can just imagine her blurting out, "But what about now? I am hurting now!" (vv. 21-24).

"I am the resurrection,” Jesus says. “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” he asks her. “Yes, Lord,” she responds, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (vv. 25-27). Martha presses through her grief and testifies that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah.

Jesus knew the big picture—the ultimate story of redemption. But he was also moved by his friend’s present grief. The text tells us he was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” The word translated “troubled” implies a great agony of soul and is the same word used to describe Jesus as he contemplated the cross (John 12:27).

Jesus agonizes over the death of his friend and weeps intensely. "I knew that you always hear me,” he prays to the Father, “but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” Then in a loud voice that must have shaken all of creation he shouts, "Lazarus, come out!" (vv. 42,43). And out of the tomb walks the “four-days-dead” Lazarus who came back to life. No wonder many onlookers put their faith in Jesus.

Maybe you’re facing a huge disappointment. You know Jesus could fix it, so why hasn't he shown up yet? Maybe your faith has been shaken to its core. Let’s remember what Jesus said when he learned of Lazarus' sickness. This verse is my watchword for today: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (v. 4).

Jesus knew the end of Lazarus’s story. He knows the end of yours. Would you entrust that heartbreaking situation to him, believing that your pain may be the raw material for a miracle? Dare to pray that those who see his work in your life may truly believe he is the Son of God.

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