(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 stimulated 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.)
Reader: “When he heard that Lazarus was sick,
Response: “he stayed where he was…”
Scripture John 11:1-6
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.
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’s words in Isaiah 55 read, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways.” Then when that truth plays out in real life, we’re surprised! Such was the case with Lazarus. He was at his home and very sick. Jesus was in another part of the country. His sisters sent word for Jesus to come, after all, Jesus had healed many people, why not their brother? Jesus was not mad at Mary, Martha, or Lazarus. They were all good friends and had honored him on various occasions. Yet, he enigmatically ignored their request and stayed two more days because, though they did not know it nor could imagine it, something better was in store. (Since when Jesus finally did arrive and Lazarus had been in the tomb four days, it is likely that Lazarus was already dead when Jesus received the first message given the travel time of both the messenger and Jesus’ travel time to Bethany.) 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. In the biggest picture of what God was doing, God’s timing was everything. Lazarus eventually died again! But in between Lazarus’ two deaths, Jesus died once for all making Lazarus’ ultimate resurrection eternal! Jesus’ glory continues for all eternity as the one who gained victory over death . . . for everyone who believes, not just Lazarus. You may be going through the “Jesus stayed two more days” phase of your life and wishing he’d hurry up and bring relief. Pray that God might be glorified in what is coming your way. As my father-in-law so often reminded us, “The Lord may tarry, but he is never too late.” Just ask Lazarus!
Music: “And Can It Be that I Should Gain” Let’s hear it for the Brits! They SING!
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