“When he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was . . .”
(A side comment here. This week we will look at the account of Lazarus. This event happened shortly before Palm Sunday and was a major triggering event which hatched the plot to kill Jesus. (John 11:51-53) As we move to the conclusion of Lent, our focus moves from more introspection and repentance in our own lives, to the events that led Jesus to Calvary. In the ancient church, yesterday, the fifth Sunday in Lent, was called the First Sunday of the Passion.)
Scripture John 11:1-6
1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 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. 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 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.” 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
Reader: This is the word of the Lord. Response: Thanks be to God.
Does it ever seem like God doesn’t do the right thing, or at least his timing is noticeably off? He clearly could do something and just doesn’t? In fact sometimes it seems as if he deliberately tries to annoy us. The Lord says in Isaiah 55 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways.” Then when that plays out in real life, we’re surprised! Such was the case with Lazarus who was sick at home. His sisters sent word for Jesus, who was in another part of the country, to come and attend to their brother. After all, Jesus had healed many, many people. Jesus was not mad at Mary, Martha, and their brother. They were good friends and had honored him on various previous occasions. In fact, he often stayed with them. Yet in this critical situation, he ignored their request because, though they did not know it nor could imagine it, something better was in store. That something better was not the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, it was the glorification of Jesus, as the Son of God, as the One who had the power over death. Think about it. Which is greater, power to resuscitate someone who had died, or power over eternal death? Lazarus was dead dead! You may be going through the “Jesus stayed two more days” phase of your life. Pray that God might be glorified in what is coming your way. Have you noticed how often in Scripture Jesus walks people through the experience and they see afterwards what he had in mind from the beginning. E.g. Feeding of the 5,000; casting their nets over the other side of the boat; Peter walking on the water; parting of the Red Sea; and on and on. In every case, trusting in God was involved. As my father-in-law so often reminded us, “The Lord may tarry, but he is never too late.” Just ask Lazarus!
Music: “In His Time” This is another “contemporary oldie”! A simple song with a simple text that speaks of the truth we’ve been talking about.
Prayer: O Lord, let me not henceforth desire health or life except to spend them for you, with you and in you. You alone know what is good for me; do therefore what seems best to you. Give to me or take from me; conform my will to yours; and grant that with humble and perfect submission and in holy confidence I may receive the orders of your eternal providence, and may equally adore all that comes to me from you.
―Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662