John 11:1-4 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou love is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
Lazarus means God helps. Lazarus was the brother of Mary and her sister Martha, who was ministers to Jesus (Luke 10:38-42; John 12:2) and friends of Him (John 11:5). This is not the same man as in Luke 16:19-31 who had died sometime before this Lazarus did.
Bethany (is called Eizariyya today) is a village on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, nearly three kilometres from Jerusalem. Jesus attended a feast here (Matt. 26:6-13) and the colt on which He rode into Jerusalem with, was from here (Mark 11:1-11).
This is the same Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. It does not prove she did this before this event. John is simply recording this many years later.
A messenger was ‘sent’ (Greek word apostello = to send a messenger) to say that Lazarus was weakening or sinking fast. They thought this would not fail to bring Him to them, but Christ by divine guidance had other plans.
Lazarus’s sickness was not unto death and corruption, but God will permit [allow, not cause it] a temporary death so that the glory of God can be manifest by a resurrection. This was the message sent back to the sisters. Jesus was only about 29 kilometres away.
Had Lazarus not been resurrected there would have been no glory to God. So today, God does not get glory out of sickness, but out of healing the sick. God may get some glory in spite of some sickness, but the sickness itself is no glory. Anyone, young or old, can certainly glorify God better and do more work for Him when well than when sick. Let no person be deceived in thinking he is sick for God’s glory, for there is no scriptural foundation for such modern fallacy.