Have you ever faced a situation that was time sensitive? Maybe you had a bill with a fast approaching due date, a job or project with a looming deadline or some other pressing issue?
There have been many such issues in my own life. I can’t count the times that I have worried until I was a total emotional mess. I have worked myself into a frenzy trying to figure things out on my own and think up a possible solutions to some problem I was facing. I’m sure you can relate.
So many times, I have tried and tried to work out the issues of life and failed quite miserably! But in the end, God showed up and took care of the problem in His perfect way and in His perfect timing. I was left feeling just a bit silly for not trusting Him with the problem in the first place.
I still struggle in that area. So often I still try to come up with my own solutions, only to see God Show up at the last minute and “save the day”. I have wondered, if He was going to work it out anyway, why didn’t He go ahead and take care of the problem when it first presented itself?
We see a very time sensitive matter in scripture. The eleventh chapter of John records the sickness, death and resurrection of Jesus’ friend, Lazarus.
The Bible tells us that Lazarus’ sisters sent for Jesus, telling Him that their brother was very ill. “When Jesus received the message, He said, This sickness is not to end in death; but [on the contrary] it is to honor God and to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through (by) it.” (John 11:4 Amplified Bible).
After He received the message, Jesus waited two days to leave the town He was teaching in. When He decided to leave for Judea, He said this to His disciples concerning Lazarus,
11 “Our friend Lazarus is at rest and sleeping; but I am going there that I may awaken him out of his sleep.12 The disciples answered, Lord, if he is sleeping, he will recover.13 However, Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He referred to falling into a refreshing and natural sleep.14 So then Jesus told them plainly, Lazarus is dead,”
I wonder if the disciples understood what Jesus was saying, that He planned to raise a dead man back to life? I wonder what their thoughts were when He said that? I wonder if they were shocked or if they doubted the ability of Jesus to perform such a miracle? Jesus told them plainly that their friend Lazarus had died. But that is not all He said concerning the death of Lazarus. Read what Jesus said in John 11:15;
And for your sake I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me). However, let us go to him.
Surely, losing a friend (for Jesus and the disciples , a brother (for Mary and Martha) was not something that they viewed as a good thing. This was a time of grieving and heartache. But Jesus was about to turn things around, as He so often does for those of us who believe.
He was going to use this painful experience to help people to believe in and trust Him.
This is the scene as Jesus and the disciples entered the town of Bethany, where Lazarus lived with his sisters, Mary and Martha;
“17 So when Jesus arrived, He found that he [Lazarus] had already been in the tomb four days.18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away,19 And a considerable number of the Jews had gone out to see Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him, while Mary remained sitting in the house.21 Martha then said to Jesus, Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.22 And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You.23 Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again.24 Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.25 Jesus said to her, I am [Myself] the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me, although he may die, yet he shall live;26 And whoever continues to live and believes in (has faith in, cleaves to, and relies on) Me shall never [actually] die at all. Do you believe this?27 She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed [I do believe] that You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), the Son of God, [even He] Who was to come into the world. [It is for Your coming that the world has waited.]28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, privately whispering to her, The Teacher is close at hand and is asking for you.29 When she heard this, she sprang up quickly and went to Him.30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the same spot where Martha had met Him.31 When the Jews who were sitting with her in the house and consoling her saw how hastily Mary had arisen and gone out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to pour out her grief there.32 When Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she dropped down at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.33 When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who came with her [also] sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.]34 And He said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, Lord, come and see.35 Jesus wept.36 The Jews said, See how [tenderly] He loved him!37 But some of them said, Could not He Who opened a blind man’s eyes have prevented this man from dying?38 Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close] it.39 Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of the dead man, exclaimed, But Lord, by this time he [is decaying and] throws off an offensive odor, for he has been dead four days!”
We see what pain and sorrow there was because of the death of Lazarus. Many were filled with grief, among them was the two sisters of Lazarus. These two ladies were grieving, not only because their brother was dead, but there was also another reason.In verse 21, we read what Martha has to say to Jesus when she came out to meet Him. She said, Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. It is clear that she believed Jesus could have healed Lazarus and he would have lived… but Jesus wasn’t there when they needed Him. The sisters knew the power of Jesus. They knew who He was and they knew that if He would come, everything would be alright. But Jesus didn’t come when He heard of the illness of His friend. He waited two more whole days before leaving the place He was teaching.
They must have felt as if Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah that they had been waiting and praying for, had let them down. They must have been hurt because He had disappointed them. They were not only grieving the death of their beloved brother. They were also feeling hurt and let down, maybe even abandoned, by the very One Who had come to give them hope. How painful that must have been.
But even in her pain, Martha still believed in Jesus. Read the rest of the conversation between Martha and Jesus in verses 22-27.
22 And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You.23 Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again.24 Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.25 Jesus said to her, I am [Myself] the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me, although he may die, yet he shall live;26 And whoever continues to live and believes in (has faith in, cleaves to, and relies on) Me shall never [actually] die at all. Do you believe this?27 She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I have believed [I do believe] that You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), the Son of God, [even He] Who was to come into the world. [It is for Your coming that the world has waited.] (Emphasis mine)
Martha knows Who she is talking to. She knows that God is standing before her in the form of a man. She hears Him telling her that Lazarus will rise again. But she still struggles to fully understand what He is saying to her. She rationalizes His words for herself so that they make sense in the natural realm of things. She thinks He is speaking of the great resurrection of the dead at the “last day”. In her heart, she wants to believe that there is still hope for her brother. But in her head, she knows that he has been dead four days and it’s all over. Surely, his dead body even stinks by now! Jesus didn’t heal him. Jesus wasn’t there.
After her talk with Jesus, Martha went back to the house to get Mary. In verse 32, Mary echoes Martha’s disappointment. The Bible says that,
“she dropped down at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Several people had followed the sisters as they went out to meet Jesus. They all felt the same disappointment in Him. Verse 37 says this,
But some of them said, Could not He Who opened a blind man’s eyes have prevented this man from dying?”
Do you know that feeling? Have you ever been left feeling abandoned and let down, maybe even betrayed because God didn’t answer a prayer or provide a need in the way or at the time that you thought He should? Maybe you were even angry with Him because of what happened in His “absence”? I know that I have. I have felt hurt and angry, abandoned and betrayed. But Jesus has NEVER let any of us down. And He never will.
In verse 35 the Bible says, “Jesus wept.” I have heard several times that Jesus was crying because His friend had died. Even the people who observed assumed that His tears were for that reason (John 11:35-36). But I believe that it was for another reason that Jesus was grieving. I say this because He was about to raise Lazarus to life again. There was no reason to cry for him. But there was a reason for Jesus’ heart to be breaking. Look at verse 33;
When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who came with her [also] sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.]. The scripture says that when Jesus saw them crying, “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.]”.
I believe that Jesus was hurting because the people were hurting. I believe that Jesus, God in the flesh, cried because He felt the pain of His people.We all know what happened next. After Lazarus had been dead and in his tomb for four whole days, Jesus prayed to His Father in heaven and then called for the dead man to come out of his tomb… and he did! But do you know what happened next? Read verse 45;
45 Upon seeing what Jesus had done, many of the Jews who had come with Mary believed in Him. [They trusted in Him and adhered to Him and relied on Him.]
Mission accomplished! Because of this, many people believed in Jesus.
So, what about your life, and mine? Why does Jesus sometimes show up right on time, or in some cases, just a few days late? I believe His reasons are the same now as they were then. Things need to look hopeless to the natural so that He can do something completely supernatural… all so that we can see it and believe. Sometimes it may seem that it’s all over. It may seem that He has waited too late. But the truth is, He is always right on time.