Waiting for God
Lord, help me to cooperate with Your purposes even though I may not understand them.
Read John 11:1–16
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.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psa. 30:5). Praise God for times you have seen answers to prayer after a time of waiting.
Lazarus is only mentioned here and in the next chapter. He does not feature in the other gospels, but John may assume that
his readers have read the account of the anointing by Mary from Mark’s Gospel (Mark 14:1–9; Luke does not mention Bethany), and John will give his own account (in chapter 12) after this episode. Some have speculated that Lazarus is the “beloved disciple” who reclined next to Jesus at the Last Supper (John 13:23) and, with Peter, was first to the tomb (John 20:4), but it makes more sense to understand this as John himself.
Quite enigmatic is Jesus’ response to the message he receives about Lazarus’s illness. His comment that “this illness will not end in death” (4) appears to be made to the messengers; only later (11–15) does he disclose it to his disciples. But why does Jesus delay? And what is he doing in the intervening time? Is he calculating the risk of crossing the Jordan (John 10:40), where he could get killed? Should he continue ministering where he is, leading more people to faith (John 10:40–42)? Is he immersed in prayer about the situation?
We can be sure that his delay did not arise from indifference: Jesus loves Martha, Mary and Lazarus (5). Yet, in some mysterious way, they would never see what they need to see unless Jesus delays. John’s themes here are some that he has included from the beginning: light and darkness, life and death, and the revelation of God’s glory (John 1:1–18). Only by trusting Jesus, despite his inexplicable delay and apparent lack of action, will they behold his promise of life triumphing over death—the revelation of God’s
glory in the raising of Lazarus.
Pray for those you know for whom it looks as though God has tarried, perhaps too long. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have
believed” (John 20:29).
Lord, thank You for loving me the same way You loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Keep me as Your friend, as Lazarus was Your friend (11).
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