I am now 16 days into a 40-Day Bible reading plan of the New Testament during this Lent season. It is usually a time when people give something up. I have been trying to add to my spiritual walk during this time by proactively reading more than I might usually read. This past week, I read Luke 10 through John 14. As I shared last week, when you read quickly through the gospel accounts, many of the stories are repeated often (especially in the synoptic gospels). But when I got into the book of John, many new accounts of the life of Jesus began to impact my life.
The one particular story I wanted to share is found in John 11, the story of the death of Lazarus. If you were to read the account, we are told that Jesus loved this man. In fact, He was close to the entire family, Mary and Martha. But when Jesus is informed by the sisters that Lazarus was sick, Jesus was quick to respond that the illness was not to lead to death, but that Jesus would be glorified. But then Jesus makes this very interesting statement.
"Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was" (John 11:5-6).
It was because of His love for this family that Jesus delayed in coming to them as soon as he heard of the illness. Think about that. I just met with a family this past week that as they arrived from their drive to Florida, received the phone call that their mother was sick. They did not delay in coming home, but returned immediately. So, how does Jesus delaying prove His love for this family?
I think the only explanation for His love for them is found in Jesus' response to the disciples. Jesus tells the disciples plainly,
"Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe" (John 11:14-15).
It appears that Jesus' love for His disciples and for this family was so great that the only way their faith would be strengthened was to go through tragedy and then feel the healing power of the Savior.
Next time you are in the middle of some tragedy or the next time you wonder about God's timing for a particular event, please reflect back upon this story. Reflect back upon that maybe God is delaying in responding so that your faith might be strengthened.