You notice that the opening of John chapter 5 has to do with the
lame man at the Pool of Bethesda, and the Lord's making him to
rise up and walk, and the resultant persecution. Then at verse 17
we have, "Jesus answered them, My Father worketh even until now,
and I work... Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do
nothing of Himself, but what he seeth the Father doing; for what
things soever He doeth, these things the Son also doeth in like
manner... As the Father raiseth the dead and giveth them life,
even so the Son also giveth life to whom He will" (vv. 17-21).
"And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from his birth. And his
disciples asked Him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his
parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered, Neither did
this man sin, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be
made manifest in him. We must work the works of Him that sent Me,
while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work" (John
"But when Jesus heard it, He said, This sickness is not unto
death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be
glorified thereby" (John 11:4).
"Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou
believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" (John 11:40).
Our brother has led our thoughts in the direction of that
all-important work of the cross in clearing ground for God and for
us. We are able to pass over for a few minutes to the other side
of the cross, the Life side, and these words in John 11:4 contain
the essence of things: "not unto death, but for the glory of God".
You notice things which are set over against each other there, not
even, "not death, but Life", or "not unto death, but unto Life"; it
does not say that (although that is how it works out, or that is
the way) but the opposites are death and the glory of God.
Death stands against the glory of God and the glory of God is
altogether ruled out where there is death. But, on the other hand,
the glory of God rules out death, and where the glory of God is,
there is no death.
Now, we have in these several passages references to the work of
God or the works of God: "My Father worketh and I work", "My
Father worketh", "Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but
that the works of God should be made manifest in him", "Said I not
unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory
of God?" So that the work of God, or the works of God which are
unto the glory of God, are works of resurrection.
Resurrection is God's way of getting glory, and if we are really
coming into the sphere of Divine activities and the works of God, we
must expect that everything in those works of God leading to the
glory of God, will be in terms of resurrection; so that the works
of God in us and through us by His Son, Jesus Christ, will be
resurrection works. And in order that glory might really come to
the Lord, we, being brought into the presence of the works of the
Lord, will always be brought into the presence of the utter
necessity for the Lord to work. There will be no doubt about it
that the Lord has got to work and unless the Lord does work, then
that is an end of it. And if the Lord's works are resurrection,
then the necessities unto which we shall be brought will be
necessities for resurrection. This will mean that we shall have to
have a very deep realisation, on the one hand, of the hopelessness
of the situation, and a deep strong apprehension, on the other
hand, of the God of resurrection. And the Lord will see to it that
we have a very lively sense of how bad things are and how
necessary it is for Him to enter in.
No Place for the Glory of God in the Flesh
This story of Lazarus, for instance, does bring out, among other
things, this: that the Lord will see to it that we have a horror
of the uncovering of the flesh. You notice when they came to the
tomb and the Lord said, "Take away the stone", they stood back
horrified. "Lord, by this time he stinketh." A horror of really
what the flesh is from God's standpoint: the real corruption that
is there, the real hopelessness of things there.
Do you realise, that it is an important factor in the realm of
the works of God that we have a horror of the flesh? There is a
necessity for the cutting off, the putting away, of it. It does
not come into the realm of the work of God. Let me just add to the
strength of what he said by this: that the Lord would have us,
rather than work in the energy of the flesh, have a perfect horror
of the flesh in the presence of the Lord Jesus. It is not until we
have that loathing, that awful sense of what the flesh is before
God, that we can come into the great work of God on that side of
Divine life. That is one thing. I do not think that anybody ever
really knows the works of God and glory of God in resurrection
until they have come to a very deep apprehension of the utter
worthlessness and abhorrence of the natural life as in the sight
of God, so that it cries out, "Woe is me, I am undone!" That is
what Lazarus would have said if he could have spoken from the
tomb. At any rate, that represents his position. "Woe is me, for I
am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips" (Isa. 6:5). Until
we come to that, we cannot know the glory of God because there is
no place for the glory of God in the flesh. No flesh shall glory
in His presence.
When we come to the sense of the weakness and futility and
worthlessness of the natural life as before God and hate it, and
are horrified at the thought of it being exposed at all, we do not
want it to be seen, oh, how different this is from so many who
display the flesh, even in the service of God. It is themselves
you are meeting all the time in the work of the Lord. They like to
wear labels, their office written in large letters on the label,
displaying themselves in the work of the Lord; "I am So-and-so and
this and that!" Even if they do not wear a label, you can read it.
What you meet is the natural man, his love of prominence and love
of being seen and heard, known; rushing about with bundles of
papers under his arm, so official. That never can result in the
glory of God; that, or any other form of the flesh, does not bring
glory to God. It is taking glory from God to the flesh.
However, when we have been brought very low, to shrink from the
very thought of that, of any flesh coming into view, taking the
attitude that they took at the tomb, "Lord, don't you uncover
that, it is too awful to contemplate now!" that is a very good
position, because, once we have got there, there is the
possibility of seeing the glory of God.
The Sovereignty of God Working for the Glory of
Now, as our time has practically gone, the only other thing that
I must say is this - the element, the feature, of sovereignty in
all this for the glory of God; how the sovereignty of God is
working for the glory of God. Take the man lame, for instance.
Well, he had been there many years and the story would imply that
others had been there and got healed, but every time he lost the
chance, and still he was kept there all those years, "and when
Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been now a long
time in that state..." Why? Was it an accident? The man might say,
"Oh, how unfortunate I have been!" He might have spoken as men of
the world speak today - "How unlucky I am! When there is healing
going and the waters are disturbed, others get the good, I miss it
every time; what an unlucky man I am! Somehow or other, I must be
the one left every time!" Was it chance, misfortune, bad luck,
anything like that?
Again pass to chapter 9, the man born blind, the enquiry: "Who
sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?"
The man might have said, "How unfortunate I am! I, among
thousands, am born blind, I am the unlucky one, mine is an
unfortunate lot, destiny has played a hard trick with me!"
Pass on to Lazarus. He is sick, desperately sick, and either
Lazarus, or his sisters, or both, might have said, "What a
misfortune, how unfortunate! We do have to suffer, others do not
suffer like this, a lot of people escape, but we here are the
unfortunate ones, the ones who seem to catch what is going every
And the Lord's reaction every time is, "Oh no, it is not like
that, this thing has been in hand from the beginning, the Father
and I have had it in hand!" Strange as it may seem, this man lying
there was not there by accident, and did not miss the
opportunities because he was unlucky. The Lord saw to it that he
did not get them. The Lord had that matter in hand. The man born
blind - it was not an accident of birth. The Lord had the matter
in hand, that the works of God might be shown in him. Lazarus -
oh, it was not just that he was caught and overtaken by some
sickness, that they were the unfortunate family. No, "this
sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God". God
has it in hand.
The thing that I do want to say is just this: that if we are
called into the sphere of the works of God, that is, into the way
of the glory of God, we are going to be made the sermon,
we are not going to preach a sermon. It will not just be that we
are preaching the truth. We are going to be made that, and
what happens in our lives under the hand of God will preach far
louder than any words of ours. The Lord is going to make us living
epistles and going to take hold of our lives and do those things
in our lives which make it necessary for the power of His
resurrection to be seen. And then, not by the teaching that we
give, but because that truth, the doctrine, has been made a living
thing in us in the power of God, others are able to look on and
say, "Well, that one is the embodiment of the truth!" and that
matters far more than all the addresses and discourses that could
be given; that is far more powerful. "Now unto the principalities
and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through
the church the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10) that is, by the
things through which we go.
That is a challenge, of course. It is not a pleasant thing. You
would far sooner go to a Bible College and go and preach to the
heathen than to present your body a living sacrifice to God and
let Him take you down again and again into situations where the
miracle of resurrection is necessary in order to preach through
you like that. But that is the thing that counts, that matters. I
am not always sure that a great deal of glory comes to God by the
things of the Lord preached, but I am positive that a great deal
of glory comes to God when the thing is done in a life and the
work of God is resurrection, the work of God leads to His glory.
That is a difficult way, a painful way, no way which you or I
would covet for ourselves and rush after, but nevertheless it is
the way of Divine glory. And when we think again of being in the
work of the Lord, do not let us think about taking so many
meetings and organising so much activity, let us think rather, the
work of God is this: raising the dead to get glory to Himself.
There is no place and way and sphere in which more glory comes to
God than in resurrection. Oh yes, there is glory to God in
resurrection. I do like the apostolic rejoinder, "You crucified
Him, hanging Him upon a tree, but God raised Him" - you went as
far as you could, you determined that should be the end, but God
raised Him, and the laughter of God comes in there, the laughter
of all heavenly intelligences comes in with 'but God'.
Well, may the Lord give us to see His glory as in what He does in
Edited and supplied by the Golden Candlestick Trust.