A Departure From the Norm

In the 11th chapter of John, we find the familiar story of Lazarus, a friend of Jesus. Lazarus had fallen deathly ill, and in faith his sisters had sent a messenger to Jesus, fully believing in His power to heal. But what happened next was probably a bit of a surprise, because when Jesus got the message, He did not rush to His friend’s side to perform the necessary miracle. He did not just ‘say the word’ from where He stood and send the sickness fleeing.  In fact, verses 5 and 6 say, “Although He loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus very much, He stayed where He was for two days.”

He had his reasons, of course, and they were good ones. “It happened for the glory of God,” He said, “so the Son of God will receive glory from this.”  And who doesn’t want their life to bring glory to God? That’s a surefire way to know that what you’re gettin’ is the best He’s got. But what I can’t help but think of is how Mary and Martha must have felt. After all, they sent the message to Jesus.  “Your dear friend is very sick,” they said. That was sure to bring Him soon, wasn’t it?

So they waited. And waited. And waited.

I can easily imagine the pain and grief they must have felt when their brother died; how their hearts must have wilted as the last of their hope drained away. Just imagine their questions: Why had this happened? Why had God allowed it? And most of all, where was Jesus? They had sent for Him, told Him of the circumstances.  He knew that Lazarus was sick, that he could die, and yet…He never came.  Not the first day, nor the second.  He wasn’t there when they had to wrap their beloved brother’s body in burial cloths and place him in the tomb.  He wasn’t there when friends and family gathered around to support and grieve.

Then, finally, four days too late, Jesus came.

Here Martha met Jesus on the road, essentially saying to Him, “You could have prevented this. I know God gives you whatever you ask.” Her faith was such that she believed her brother’s life could have been saved – and that’s pretty strong faith – but she never imagined what God actually had in store. Even when Jesus said in verse 23, “Your brother will rise again,” she didn’t understand. Well, sure, he would rise in the resurrection at the last day, but that was little comfort now. Then Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, the one who believes in Me, even if He dies, will live.”

Mary came, her heart crying out as Martha’s had, and they took Jesus to the tomb. “Remove the stone,” He said, but in Martha’s heart, it was too late. Her brother was dead. There was no hope left, and certainly no reason to roll the stone away.  But Jesus said, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

Let’s just stop here, shall we? Let’s think on that for a moment. Jesus promised that if we believe we will see the GLORY of God. Simple as that. Is your marriage failing? Is your child sick? Is your heart broken…devoid of hope…full of grief…dominated by questions of how and why and where were you, Jesus?

Jesus promised that if you believe, you will see the glory of God.

Lazarus saw it when he came out of his tomb, tripping on his own burial clothes.  Mary and Martha saw it when they witnessed life return to their brother’s dead and stinking body. I myself saw it when I experienced freedom from the pain and shame of sexual abuse.

Where death had reigned, Jesus brought life, because He is the resurrection and the life, and if we believe we will see his glory.

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