There is a very strange passage in the gospel of John that teaches one of the most important biblical truths we need to digest in order to navigate the confusing, turbulent waters of life. This truth is contained in the story of the raising of Lazarus, and the response Jesus gave when Mary and Martha sent word to Him that their brother Lazarus was sick.
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. . . . So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” . . . Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
(John 11:1, 3, 5-6)
It is easy to miss the incredible impact of what John is saying if we are not careful. Scripture relates that Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were all friends whom Jesus loved. So what Jesus says seems to be saying in this passage might appear insensitive at best and indifferent at worst . . .
BECAUSE I LOVE YOU . . . I WILL STAY AWAY TWO MORE DAYS!
Mary and Martha reached out to their friend Jesus in their time of crisis; no doubt they expected Him to respond in some other way than He actually did! After all, Jesus didn’t need to physically come to Bethany; He could have simply said a word and Lazarus would be fully healed. If healing would not come by our Lord uttering a word, then certainly He would promptly come to the rescue of their sick brother. And if He did not “come a-runnin,” at least Jesus would begin to make His way toward Bethany and minister to Lazarus.
But Jesus did none of these things! The passage says, Jesus loved [them]. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was. He stayed away two more days! Jesus did not respond in the way they wanted or expected. And that is often the truth for every child of God.
Mary and Martha were entirely right to reach out to Jesus when they found themselves in need . . . but they were entirely wrong to think they knew best how Jesus should respond to their need. Jesus always knows what is best for His people. He knows when it is best to respond immediately and when it is best to delay. What you and I need to remember is this: LOVE THAT DELAYS DOES NOT EQUAL LOVE THAT DENIES!
Clearly it was more loving for Jesus to wait in this circumstance. He had a very special miracle planned for all of them that would be another “sign” pointing to His deity. He would raise Lazarus from the dead after he had been buried for four days. He would show them that nothing is impossible with God.
John’s account demonstrates the truth that Jesus is who He says He is. And with that truth firmly etched upon the hearts of the children of God, we can be sure that God’s timing is always perfect and His response is always what is best for us. This passage teaches us that we can fully trust Jesus . . . even when we cannot trace Him.
So . . . how well have you been doing in this area lately? Remember, God loves you so much that He will not answer every prayer in the way you want it answered. And anyone who has been walking with Jesus for some time can look into the past and thank Him for that truth.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!