Lazarus is Dead!
September 15 - Nº 258 John 11:1-17
Jesus and his disciples were frequent guests in the home of Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus. (Did you notice that “Lazarus” is one of the names Jesus used in the parable he just told—see #257 - The Rich Man and Lazarus?) That’s because the siblings lived in Bethany, which was a great place to stop on the way to or from Jerusalem (see #252 - Listening and Praying). One day Lazarus became very sick. Since Jesus was a good friend of the family, and because he had met the needs of so many other people, Mary and Martha tried to contact him. They sent a message saying, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” They presumed Jesus would come immediately. However, when he got the message, Jesus stalled. He told his disciples, “This sickness will not end in death. It is for God’s glory. But not only will God be glorified; I will be glorified through it as well.” Surprisingly, even though he loved Lazarus and his family very much, Jesus stayed where he was for two more days. The disciples were fine with this decision. They had no desire to travel back into Judea at that time—especially to Bethany, since it was so close to Jerusalem. The last time they had been in Jerusalem for a feast, the Jewish leaders had tried to stone Jesus. Obviously, this meant that their lives were in danger, too. So, two days later when Jesus announced that it was time to go to Bethany, they argued with him. Jesus explained, “There are only 12 hours of daylight.” He knew that he had very little time left to finish the work God had sent him to do. The “night” of his crucifixion was coming soon, and he still had a very important miracle to perform. Jesus went on to explain, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, and I am going to wake him up.” This wasn’t the first time that Jesus had referred to death as “sleep” and to resurrection as “waking up” (see #239 - A Desperate Woman and A Dead Daughter). Plus, the disciples should have been familiar with this metaphor. It was frequently used in the Old Testament. When kings or prophets were buried, it was said that they “slept” with their fathers. But the disciples were confused. They took Jesus’ words literally. “But, if he is asleep, he will get better,” they argued, hoping not to have to travel into Judea. Jesus stated the facts clearly, “Lazarus is dead! And for your sake I am glad I was not there so that you may believe.” Jesus knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. By witnessing this miracle, his disciples would later be able to grasp the truth of Jesus’ own resurrection. “Let’s go to Bethany now,” Jesus said as he headed out. Thomas, one of the disciples muttered, “Let’s go. We’re probably going to be killed soon anyway, so we might as well die with him now.” It was a statement of loyalty, but also one of impending doom. The disciples were beginning to understand that following Jesus involved sacrifice—maybe even giving up their lives. As they approached Bethany, Jesus and his disciples learned that Lazarus was indeed dead. He had been in the tomb for four days.
Have you ever felt like God did not show up when you needed Him most? Do you sometimes feel like He ignores your prayers? God’s delays are never because He doesn’t have time or doesn’t care. When He delays it is because He is putting everything in place to provide the perfect answer.