Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it 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.”
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. John 11:1-6
Jesus, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. People who loved each other. Mary, Martha and Lazarus knew that Jesus could do amazing things. Ergo, when Lazarus got rather ill they sent a message to Jesus. My guess is they hoped that Jesus would come and make Lazarus better.
But Jesus didn’t come. In fact he waited two days before he went to be with them. Jesus said that the illness wouldn’t end in death and would be the God’s glory in the end.
I wonder if his disciples thought that meant the Lazarus would die. That everything would turn out great. It’s hard to know right? We aren’t told in scripture what they thought. A person can wonder a bit. What we do know though is that Jesus didn’t do what was expected. Jesus tarried.
He had a reason, though he wasn’t explicit when he talked with the disciples, other than to say he died “and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe“.
11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Honestly, if I had been in the disciples shoes I would have been very curious. How could the death of Lazarus affect my belief??
I can imagine the heart break of Mary and Martha though, knowing the Jesus was close enough to come, yet knowing that he didn’t. Seeing their brother die. How difficult that must have been for them.
I found it fascinating to read this sentence “So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. ” We’ve gone from Mary sticking close to Jesus wanting to learn from him to Martha going to Jesus while Mary stayed behind. Martha talking with Jesus, acknowledging that Jesus could have saved him…and then the joy of seeing Martha’s faith…knowing the Lazarus would be raised again.
Therefore we know that Martha at least knew that Jesus could have saved Lazarus, but he chose not to. He chose to tarry while Lazarus died.
For What Reason Could God tarry?
What do we do when we expect God to do something and it seems like he is just tarrying. Waiting to show up after it’s too late? How does one understand that?
- We know that God’s plan was Lazarus’ illness end in his glory. The biggest realization we need to come to is that sometimes God has a good reason to tarry. It can be to show for his glory at a later date.
- Jesus alluded to the fact that Lazarus’ death would increase their faith. This tells us that the Lord tarrying could be a matter of helping us by increasing our faith. Causing us to need to trust him all that more.
- God’s ways are higher than our own. We can’t always tell why God acts as he does, but he always has a reason.
What can our response be?
What should our response be when it seems like God tarries?
- Remember who God is, recall to mind what you know of God.
- Remember a delay is not a denial. It’s just a waiting period.
- Know that when God is ready, when the time is right, he will reveal what is meant to be.
Jesus met Mary and Martha where they were at. Seeing their pain and misery. Weeping along with them. When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.
See when we are waiting, Jesus isn’t ignoring us. He knows where we are at. But look at what happens, see what happens next! He doesn’t leave us there. See look… look!
8 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
What do you think that did to Mary’s faith, Martha’s faith or the faith of the disciples? To see God in action like that? Wouldn’t it have just blown your mind? To see Lazarus walking out of that tomb in response to a call from the Lord Jesus Christ?
Now Jesus did challenge them to have faith, to believe him. He told them if they believed they would see the glory of God. AND THEY DID. They opened the tomb. They saw Lazarus walk out alive. Their faith was strengthened. The tarrying of the Lord had good reason.
Take heart! When the Lord tarries, there is good reason for it.