11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” 8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” 11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die, but he stayed where he was. The NLT says in verse 5, ‘although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.’ Even though he loved them and even though he knew Lazarus was going to die, he waited. Finally, after the two days are up and Lazarus is dead, he returns to the family.
Meanwhile, Lazarus has died, his life ended, and his poor sisters and friends left to grieve. It seems cold and calculated that Jesus would let this happen, except that there was a bigger purpose. Jesus would do the impossible and raise Lazarus back to life.
For all the grief they endured for those few days, believing Lazarus was lost, how much joy did they experience when he was restored to them? And how many people in the years, centuries and millenia since have found hope in knowing that the God who raised Lazarus from the dead is with them. I am sure that Lazarus and his sisters could not have imagined the importance of their story.
Thank you God that you do nothing carelessly, and that you are a God of restoration and hope. No matter what I see or experience, please help me to trust in your wisdom, love and eternal perspective.
Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh