John 11:1-7Amplified Bible
The Death and Resurrection of Lazarus
11 Now a certain man named Lazarus was sick. He was from [a]Bethany, the village where Mary and her sister Martha lived. 2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, he [our brother and Your friend] whom You love is sick.” 4 When Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness will not end in death; but [on the contrary it is] for the glory and honor of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5 Now Jesus loved and was concerned about Martha and her sister and Lazarus [and considered them dear friends]. 6 [b]So [even] when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed in the same place two more days. 7 Then He said to His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
We are not sure how it happened.
We are not sure how such an occurrence was even conceivable.
It is echelons beyond our ability to even begin to try to frame it adequately.
But the reality of the situation was still the reality of the situation.
None of our expectations were being met when we required them to be met.
Then the inevitable happened – and we cannot begin to fathom it.
But here it is, moment by moment, things were definitely getting worse.
In truth, things were getting significantly worse.
The Teacher had not come as he promised and the sickness was progressing.
Messengers were rushing sent ahead – had the message not reached Him?
Their brother Lazarus lay dying in his bed.
In the greatest of urgencies they sent for Jesus.
And they waited for Jesus to come.
And they waited for Jesus to arrive.
They looked unto the hills from whence they expected their help to come from.
And they kept looking and they kept waiting and they kept anticipating.
And the looking and the waiting and the anticipation just kept right on going.
They knew deep in their hearts Jesus loved Martha and Mary. He loved Lazarus.
So when they urgently sent word to Him that Lazarus was sick . . . Jesus waited.
Somewhere in all of that waiting on the Lord to be immediately there for them:
Their Brother Lazarus – DIED ….
What a giant God sized belly drop – a hardcore face plant into the hard earth.
Now we are told in our narrative that a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.
So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”
With such a love for them as they knew Jesus had for them and their family, they expected Jesus to immediately pack up all of his belongings and Come!
But instead of the righteous “reasonably expected” response, when Jesus heard it he immediately turned, said unto his disciples, “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.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he instead stayed two days longer in the place where he was (John 11:1–6).
When the message reached Jesus, He waited. He stayed two days longer.
He didn’t rush. He didn’t run. He didn’t even heal from a distance like He did with the centurion’s servant.
We do not even read in the Gospel text where Jesus sent one of His disciples running and rushing ahead to notify Mary, Martha and Lazarus of his delay.
Jesus and his disciples just stayed in their camp by the fire and did what?
We are not told – but on the surface, the response seems to be unusually cold.
A response that we who have the 20/20 hindsight today would call fully and completely and utterly out of Character for the Jesus we know and love today.
The word “disappointed” is never penned in this text, but it is clearly written all over the story, weaved into and between every single word and every sentence.
Can we even begin to ponder being even minimally disappointed in God?
Can we even begin to ponder being even minimally disappointed in Jesus?
Can we even begin to ponder being even minimally disappointed in God the Holy Spirit?
Yes or No?
Conceivable or Inconceivable?
Not What They Hoped For Nor Expected
I am reasonably sure Mary and Martha were disappointed. They knew Jesus could heal their brother. They knew it would be no problem for Him. They told Him as much, as soon as He had showed up (four days late according to them).
I can just see Martha’s arms crossed and her stern glare as she rebukes Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).
She angrily lays every last ounce of blame for Lazarus’ death square at His feet.
She poured out her heart with an urgent request, she expected an immediate and loving response and shockingly Jesus failed her and didn’t come through.
He let her down.
He tripped her up.
Perhaps there were even thoughts and feelings an sharp words of betrayal.
Can you and I relate to any of this story?
I have unanswered prayers. I have urgent requests, and too, requirements that haven’t been attended to, loved ones who are dying without hope of eternal life.
“I am desperate for any answer which will lift this “nearly impossible” burden off of my shoulders and out of my life – I need immediate relief and freedom.”
Where is God, my Father – who never slumbers nor sleeps, night and day, keeps me from stumbling, protects me from the burning rays of the sun and my foes?
Where is Jesus?
Why is He delaying?
Doesn’t He care?
Isn’t He listening?
Where is He?
Where is God the Holy Spirit, who is supposedly continually, continuously interceding on my behalf, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long?
Waiting for the Greater
God was still, as promised by scriptures, still wide awake!
The Holy Spirit, as promised by scriptures, was still interceding!
Jesus is exactly, as promised by scriptures, where He was supposed to be.
He loved them, as promised by scriptures, with an everlasting love,
So, He waited.
His heart was always for their best, so He waited.
His vision was beyond the expected, so He waited.
His obedience was to the Father’s plan, so He waited.
Jesus was in no hurry to move because in the waiting there is always great purpose.
John provides the details, so there is no mistaking who “this Lazarus” is. He is Lazarus of Bethany, “the village of Mary and her sister Martha.” But to add to that emphasis, John includes this detail: “It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.”
Note that detail.
The Holy Spirit through John is signifying to us that He knows which Mary it is;
we should pay attention to the fact that this is no “common Mary.”
This is the Mary who prepared Jesus for His burial.
The anointing would take place later, after this incident, but John wants the reader to realize this was the Mary who was deeply devoted to the Savior, the same Mary who sat at His feet to soak up every word an lesson from His lips.
The sisters sent the message, not with the bare facts “Lazarus is ill” but framed the message with a touching urgency as they relayed “he whom you love is ill.”
So God waited.
So the Holy Spirit waited.
So Jesus waited.
Jesus waited because this was about far more than sweet Mary. This was about more than faithful Martha. This was about even more than the beloved Lazarus.
Jesus waited for the glory of God.
Jesus waited so that the greater “than we can hope to imagine” would occur.
If Jesus had come exactly when Martha called for Him, there would have been no stretching, testing of their faith. There would’ve been no crowd of mourners on hand to bear true witness to the Life-Giver in action. There would’ve been no resurrection to astound the Jewish community and stir up a death sentence.
If God, Jesus and Holy Spirit had responded exactly when the sisters first called, the greater moment would’ve been sacrificed for what Mary thought was best.
But because He loved them, because He desired God’s max glory, Jesus waited.
He Knows Your Heart
Beloved Child of God, what are you and I asking Him for today?
Have we been crying out for a very long time without any sign of response?
Be disappointed – YES! But please, I pray of you – do not lose heart.
Be discouraged – But please do not think nor believe even for one moment, God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit does not see, or does not know, or does not care.
God, the Father knows and cares; He will never turn a blind eye to those who cry out to Him for mercy and forgiveness … but He may still wait for the exact time.
Jesus knows and cares; He will not turn a blind eye to those who cry out to Him for mercy an forgiveness . . . but He may wait for exactly the right God moment.
Because He loves you, Jesus may wait.
For God’s glory, Jesus may wait.
For God’s greater work, Jesus may wait.
Go the Holy Spirit knows and cares; He will not turn a blind eye to those who cry out to Him for mercy and forgiveness … but He may wait for the right God time.
While you wait, turn your heart in full devotion to Him knowing that all that He does is good:
Psalm 13:5Amplified Bible
But I have trusted and relied on and been confident in Your lovingkindness and faithfulness;
My heart shall rejoice and delight in Your salvation.
Psalm 16:9-10Amplified Bible
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my innermost self] rejoices;
My body too will dwell [confidently] in safety,
For You will not abandon me to Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead),
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
Psalm 27:3Amplified Bible
Though an army encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
Even in this I am confident.
Psalm 27:14Amplified Bible
Wait for and confidently expect the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.
Psalm 40:3Amplified Bible
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear [with great reverence]
And will trust confidently in the Lord.
Psalm 56:11Amplified Bible
In God have I put my trust and confident reliance; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
Isaiah 43:1-3Amplified Bible
43 But now, this is what the Lord, your Creator says, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you [from captivity];
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.
When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
“For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I have given Egypt [to the Babylonians] as your ransom,
Cush (ancient Ethiopia) and Seba [its province] in exchange for you.
Nahum 1:7Amplified Bible
The Lord is good,
A strength and stronghold in the day of trouble;
He knows [He recognizes, cares for, and understands fully] those who take refuge and trust in Him.
Philippians 1:3-6Amplified Bible
3 I thank my God in every remembrance of you, 4 always offering every prayer of mine with joy [and with specific requests] for all of you, 5 [thanking God] for your participation and partnership [both your comforting fellowship and gracious contributions] in [advancing] the good news [regarding salvation] from the first day [you heard it] until now. 6 I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].
At all times and in all places and under every given circumstances … we will wait and sometimes we will be disappointed and discouraged by all our failed efforts.
As the Holy Scriptures have given expression to God’s indescribable love for us, so we too must give adequate expression of and unto our witness to God’s Glory.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Builder of all things, giver of life, reminder of all things of God and not of myself, I know that when in my whole heart and in my whole life I fully and completely acknowledge your authority and your power that you will make my paths straight in front of me. Please empower me to live a greater life in Christ. May your Holy Spirit who lives in me draw me closer to you. Give me a mind of understanding. I Pray, Let me see as you see, and not as the world sees. I trust your judgment fully and know that my own judgment is severely limited. I believe you have everything in control, and you will guide me exactly where you want me to go. All Glory and Honor be unto the Father and to the Son and the Holy Spirit Amen.