Delayed, But Not Forgotten
From the series Letters to the Prison
In John 11:4, Jesus said something unexpected: Lazarus’ terminal illness is for the glory of God.
This week, Jesus does something unexpected:
- 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 11:5-6
So, let’s be plain about some things here:
Jesus can heal a total stranger from a distance. Immediately.
- We saw him do this in John 4:46-54.
Jesus can heal a man born blind on the spot (John 10).
- The blind man was a stranger. We’re never told his name.
Jesus loves Martha, her sister (Mary) and Lazarus --this very familiar family.
- Yet, when he hears that Lazarus is gravely ill, he waits. For two days.
- And does nothing for Lazarus during that time. Remotely or otherwise.
Interestingly, in the next few verses, look what happens:
- 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again? -John 11:7-8
Jesus finally gets around to deciding to go to his beloved friend, Lazarus (who lives in Judea), and then his disciples want to stop him. In their defense, we’re going to see that the disciples misunderstood the seriousness of Lazarus’ illness. Why risk everyone’s lives going back to “enemy territory” if Lazarus is going to recover on his own, right?
But things just aren’t happening the way we might expect them to. We would expect that a loving friend (who happens to be God in the flesh) with the power to heal would rush immediately to the aid of his dying friend. We would expect that the men following Jesus would do just that… follow him without question. Especially after everything they’ve seen so far.
Others in this account have expectations, too, as we will see. And yet it’s not about what anyone expects. It’s about what God has planned to do. God has higher thoughts (Isaiah 55:9) and wiser plans. We don’t possess even a fraction of God’s unfathomable wisdom. So, when we, in our limited wisdom, try to impose our expectations on God… and then when God doesn’t meet our expectations of him, how do we respond? Do we question? Do we doubt? Do we resist God’s plans for us when they don’t match what we’ve planned for ourselves? Do we disobey because we think we know better? Do we even seek the counsel of God at all? Do we, through prayer and study, work to discern God’s will for our lives? We need to ask ourselves these things frequently. And answer honestly. And act accordingly. We love you! Until next week!