Lazarus had plots against him because he existed. Jesus had raised him from the dead. That fact the he was living and breathing was enough reason for the Pharisees and Sadducees to want to kill him. His life was a testimony to the power and glory of God. The change that God had made was inconceivable to the spiritually dysfunctional, worldly minded elitists in Jerusalem. Lazarus’ life was a constant affront to their world view.
This same mindset against the Holy One exists today. Believers are persecuted and plotted against in the same way in our culture and around the world. God takes the spiritually dead and gives them new life. When they are called out of the darkness of sin’s tomb into his marvelous light they become a testament to the glory of God. He deserves this glory because he is rich in mercy and has such great love, that he raised us into new life. Because of this Christians are targeted. The persecutors aren’t actually angry with the Christians; they are angry with Christ.
The Pharisees and Sadducees hated Lazarus because they hated Jesus. They didn’t want to admit that Jesus was God and had a right to rule over them. Every time they saw Lazarus, they had to deal with the thought that Jesus may be God and as such would have the right to rule over them. Rather than bend their will, they conspired to destroy Lazarus so they wouldn’t have to think about it anymore.
This same scenario plays itself out all over the world every day. Over 160,000 Christians are killed each year because they reflect the glory of God. Some unbelievers cannot bear the thought that the Christian God is the true and living God, and they will be accountable to Him someday. Rather than bending their will, they kill whatever reflects God’s glory, so they don’t have to face the truth.
Persecution is a global problem, and we must ask if we are ready to stand firm for the glory of God in spite of it. When we do, sinful people will consider this an affront to their lifestyle, and it will have repercussions. But it is OK. Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
God knows the big picture. We can trust in Him. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, 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 11:4). In the same way, we know, “if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).
Take heart. Stand firm. Persecution will end, but the glory of God is eternal. Choose to participate in the Glory.