What would you do if your best friend who lived a town over from you was sick, so sick that they were told they had days to live, but you actually had the power to heal them?
No brainer, right? You would jump in your car and speed over there to take away not just the physical sickness but also the fear, stress, and anxiety associated with it.
Well, not Jesus…Wait, what?!
That’s my thought exactly every time I read the story of Lazarus in the Bible.
Here’s some backstory:
“A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany (A.K.A Jesus’s BFF), the town of Mary and her sister Martha. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so very much is sick.” When Jesus got the message, he said, “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.”
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for two more days. After the two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” … Then Jesus said: “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.” (John 11:1,3-7,14-15)
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read this I think Jesus may have gotten too much sun lately or something. Imagine receiving a note from your closest friend explaining how sick they were, and how they knew you were the only one who had the power to take away their pain? Your love would forget speed limits, and other obligations that day, and rush to get to your friend.
Jesus’ love? The verse says BECAUSE He loved him, He STAYED where He was.
“He abstained from going, not because He did not love them but because He did love them. His love alone kept Him back from hasting at once to the dear and stricken home. Anything less than infinite love must have rushed instantly to the relief of those loved and troubled hearts, to have the luxury of wiping their tears and sorrow away. Divine love could alone hold back the impetuosity of the Savior’s tender-heartedness until death had done it’s work.”
Jesus’ love was after something greater than just healing Lazarus. If we rewind to an undocumented conversation between Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Jesus, it’s revealed later on in this story that Jesus made a promise to them that if they believed they would see His glory. They didn’t know how He would accomplish the grand gesture, but they trusted Him, and knew He would come through on His word.
Now, lying next to their dead brother, they see nothing of glory, only sorrow, pain, and a glory-less end.
When Jesus finally arrived 4 days after Lazarus had already died, both sisters came with the same pain-stricken words, “IF you had been here, my brother would not have died.” To which Jesus looks her in the eye, and says “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
How could glory be seen or experienced now? It was way too late. Jesus had seemingly missed His moment. He wasn’t just late, He was 4 days late.
But with three words spoken over Lazarus’ grave, “Lazarus come out”, sorrow turned to joy, and heartache turned to rejoicing. They saw His glory alright, and so did each person who had gathered to be with the family that day.
I have come back to this story more times than I can count. And every time I have to recalibrate my heart, mind, and perspective to understand the way in which God’s love works in my life. God is not scared of making us wait, or being misunderstood. He is far more concerned with following through with His promise of showing us His glory.
BECAUSE He loves me He causes me to wait until my situation is dead in the grave, so to speak. THEN, He comes not just to heal a sick man, but raise a dead man to life again. That is what God wants to do in our situations–bring life out of death, and not just for our sake but for those who are watching our lives–so that they may also encounter His glory.
God is after something greater in our waiting. And although what we see now is not glorious; give Him time, and He will come to turn our sorrow into joy.