Saturday, April 21, 2012

John 11:1-6

Chapter 11 of John’s gospel focuses on the death and resurrection of Jesus’s dear friend, Lazarus. Today we are going to look at just the first six verses that are all about God’s timing:

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. (John 11:1-6)

Jesus was up north in the area of the Jordan River, when Mary and Martha sent word that their brother Lazarus, “the one you love,” was sick. “Jesus dropped everything and rushed to his side!” That’s what you would expect to read, but that’s not what happened! Instead Jesus waited two days before heading to Bethany. Did He not care? Did He not know how sick Lazarus was? He knew! But He also knew that there was a greater plan at work. Lazarus’ sickness was “for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

Just like the healing of the man born blind in chapter 9, there was a specific purpose for Lazarus’ death: that Christ would be glorified in the resurrection! But Lazarus had to die first! He would, in fact, have to lay in the tomb for four days first! There was a greater plan at work, so Jesus purposely delayed the answer to Martha and Mary’s prayers!

Sometimes God will keep us in a holding pattern even when things look hopeless. We are in a desperate situation that only He can help, and we wonder why He hasn’t shown up yet! Maybe your marriage is falling. Maybe your teenager is in deep trouble. Maybe you have lost your job, and you are about to lose your house, as well. Maybe you have just learned that you have terminal cancer. These are things that NEED God’s immediate response! Where is He? Why hasn’t He come? Does He not get how much you need Him NOW?

Jesus knew all about Lazarus! He knew he was terminally ill. Yet, in confidence he claimed that the END would NOT be death. Jesus had a plan that required some waiting. The situation needed to get much worse, so that the planned miracle would have the maximum effect. Lazarus needed to die.

I have a saying I use in my classroom: “If nobody dies, we can fix it!” I don’t want students to think that they can make a mistake that can’t be forgiven or overcome. But the truth is that Jesus can fix even that! If He is delaying in answering your fervent prayers, take heart! Trust Him! He has a greater plan. I can’t wait to see how He amazes Mary and Martha!  

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