My Bible reading today was John 11:1-55, on Martha, Mary and their baby brother Lazarus. It’s a picture of God’s Perfect Timing, among a lot of other things. If you are like me, you are impatient when God doesn’t move when and how you expect or desire Him too. Always it is for our own good when things don’t work out to our liking. God’s ways are so much higher and better than ours! If we will just trust him quietly we would see. But, no… that’s not in our nature. Well, not in mine.
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” (11:1-3)
The sisters sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was REALLY sick. (It was just a statement, but it went with the unspoken assumption that Jesus would come quickly and heal him “before it was too late.”)
Jesus did not come.
In fact He waited two more days after receiving their message before announcing to His disciples that Lazarus was dead. It took a few more days to head back and finally arrive. By that time, the brother had been the grave four days and had begun to rot. (stink)
MARTHA (going out to meet Him): “If you had been here our brother would not have died.”
MARY (falling at His feet, weeping): “If you had been here our brother would not have died.”
RELATIVES & NEIGHBORS (whispering): “Could not He who opened the eyes of the man born blind also have kept this man from dying?”
If only! Oh, if only He would have come! Things would have been so different! Why did He delay till it was too late?
(Do YOU ever feel that way? I do. That if Jesus was HERE RIGHT NOW, my illness would be cured? If He was here, He could just say the word, lay hands on me, or let power flow from his robe when I reached to touch its hem…. But He didn’t come when I prayed. He was silent. My situation got worse. I wasn’t healed.)
Jesus was deeply moved and troubled in His spirit. Seeing the grief and pain and unbelief and death that the wiles of the devil had caused to His creation through deception and sin, Jesus wept angrily.
“Where is he buried?” He demanded.
“Roll back the stone!” He commanded
“Father, I ask this so that the people around may believe that YOU sent me (to bring life and resurrection power over sin and death).” He prayed as He looked to heaven.
“LAZARUS, COME OUT!” He shouted.
It was a shout of victory over sin and death, much like his own cry from the cross, “IT IS FINISHED!”
And… “The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (11:44)
Three days after His crucifixion and burial, Jesus also would rise from the dead, though the grave clothes would not cling to Him.
“Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men, God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (Acts 2:22-24)
“I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus said to Martha and now to us. “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (11:25-26)
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
And so….. because of the delay of a few days (so misunderstood and maligned by the sisters) a greater miracle brought glory to Christ and to the Father, and many believed. It was a crescendo of God’s power displayed, to remind them, and all of us, and perhaps even Jesus, of that ultimate miracle which would take place on Resurrection morning.
If you are desperately praying for God’s intervention right now. If you can see no way out. If it is almost too late. Remember this story. God sees and knows exactly your circumstances. His plan for you is good. Trust Him. He is totally trustworthy.