Has God ever used a highlighter with you? As I read stories from Scripture, some just seem to “pop out” more than others. I’ve been studying the book of John, and for the past few days I’ve been pleasantly fixed on chapter 11- the death (and resurrection) of Lazarus.
“Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’
When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” (v. 1-6)
Whoa, hold on there. Let’s rewind.
Lazarus was sick.
It was Mary’s brother- yes, the same Mary that poured an entire year’s savings worth of oil on Jesus.
She sent for Jesus because she believed He could do something about it. She believed in His power. She had faith. And God honors faith, right?
“…So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.”
Did Lazarus’s sickness and Mary’s faith not move Jesus? It doesn’t make sense. Those whom Jesus loved, He deliberately allowed to suffer, and in the case of Lazarus, die? Even though Mary anointed Him. Even though they put their faith in Him entirely. They were left without His presence and help for two days.
Jesus knows the plan and the purpose.
When He first heard the news, His immediate response revealed the purpose behind the plan- “for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (v. 4).
His response isn’t always what we desire. There’s no doubt we all want “Superhero Jesus” to fly in and rescue Lazarus, and ease the worries of his dear sisters. But, there’s a reason it didn’t happen that way. God wouldn’t have received the glory He wanted. Jesus had healed the sick before, but He hadn’t raised the dead. What better way to prove His divinity than through resurrecting someone declared dead- dead for days, nonetheless.
But, Mary and Martha didn’t know the plan. They saw what was right in front of them. They saw their brother’s pain. They heard their brother’s cries. They pondered anxious, dreadful thoughts. The plan didn’t make sense.
Jesus coming to heal Lazarus…now that made sense!
But Jesus never came, not in the days before Lazarus’ death.
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. SO…He stayed.” Because He loved them, He allowed them room to grow. He didn’t rush in and calm the storm. He allowed the waves to rise and the waters roar in the face of adversity. We often think that love makes room for “easy.” We think that love makes room for sunshine and roses and rainbows, but the most loving thing someone can do for you is to lead you closer to God. The road to God isn’t without obstacles, for even Jesus said, “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way…” (Matthew 7:14) But, the end is certainly worth the means.
We don’t see as He does. He knows the end of the story and all the in-betweens. The hardest part is trusting Him with what we think we already grasp. It means ruining our walls of pride and getting rid of the idea that we know anything at all. If “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” (Hebrews 11:1) our entire lives must be staked upon our hopes, and not on anything we physically perceive. That’s crazy faith!
Though the lesson is simple, the practice can be testing- trust that Jesus knows the plan and the purpose.
See you tomorrow for Day 2!
The Christian life is not a walk in the park, but it is a daring war fought under the most elite Commander.