“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (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). So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’ 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 also be glorified through it.'” John 11:1-4 NIV.

Jesus was faced with something He had never experienced before. Lazarus was no stranger to Him. He was a member of a family whose home was like a second home to Him. In the past few weeks He had spent much time there, using it as a refuge from His adversaries as He moved in and out of Jerusalem before His final Passover.

There was a strong bond between this family and Jesus. Mary had expressed her faith and adoration by anointing His feet with her costliest treasure — her alabaster box of spikenard, worth an entire year’s wages in Jewish terms. Jesus must have felt comfortable in their home. He knew He was always welcome and He was always provided for when He stayed there with His disciples.

His miracles had always been done to strangers or casual acquaintances at the most, but now His beloved friend, Lazarus lay deathly sick. His illness must have been much more than a common cold since the sisters felt the need to send for Him. Jesus’ response shows us that Lazarus was dying. What was He to do? His natural response would have been to set off immediately so that He could get to him before he died.

Yet Jesus said and did something unusual. Instead of leaving for Bethany right then, He remarked to His disciples, ‘Lazarus won’t die. This is about God’s glory and mine as well.’ What did He mean? Once again, Jesus put this crisis into perspective. What appeared obvious in the circumstances was part of a much bigger picture – God’s glory – and it was Jesus’ role to act within what God was doing, not what would have been His natural inclination.

Every situation, even if it touched someone as dear to Him as Lazarus and his sisters, was no cause for panic. He had to see it from His Father’s point of view and act within the Father’s will. There was always one guiding principle that showed Jesus what to do – whatever brought the greatest glory to the Father.

When He and His disciples met a man born blind, He used it as an opportunity to reveal the Father’s mercy by restoring His sight as a sign, especially to His opponents, that it was the Father’s desire for people to have 20/20 spiritual vision by believing in Him. The miracle triggered a debate that exposed the blindness of the Jewish leaders who vehemently defended their claim that they could “see”.

Jesus was now faced with the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity of His ministry. He had raised others from the dead, not recorded by John but by the other gospel writers, but never a person whose body had already been decaying for four days.

His disciples must have been puzzled by His attitude. He seemed quite casual about the sisters’ urgent message. First, He seemed confident that Lazarus would not die; then He made no effort to hurry to his bedside. What was going on?

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days, and then He said to His disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.'” John 11:5-7 NIV.

Isn’t that a strange way to show His love?  Are we not also faced with the same strange response from God? We cry out to Him in our crisis and He says nothing and He does nothing! It is almost as though He deliberately turns a deaf ear. What is He doing?

God is never deaf to the cries of His beloved but, like Jesus, He sees the bigger picture. There was a great lesson for the two sisters in Jesus’ action as well as revelation of who He was that impacted them and their brother far more powerfully than healing Lazarus would have done.

He is calling us to trust Him; to trust His love, His power and His intention which is much bigger than anything we can imagine.


Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *