Why wait for Lazarus to die?

This post is inspired by a question that a friend of mine raised in one of our discussions. Before reading through, please note that all the answers written here are based on my own understanding of what is written in the Scriptures. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I believe in the Holy Spirit, who gives us the wisdom to understand, little by little, the truths about God.

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Question:

Why do you think Jesus waited for Lazarus to die before he went to him to do something about him?

 

Answer:

For me the answer was given in John 11: 41-42, when Jesus prayed the following words to the Father: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

 Yes, Jesus could have rushed to Lazarus’ aid when He heard of his sickness, but he stayed where he was for two more days in order to establish the following people’s faith in Him, as the Messiah:

  1. His Disciples — “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” – John 11:14-15
  • They were closest to Jesus and had seen Him perform one miracle after another, and yet they still questioned His timing and decisions. In verse 8, they expressed fear for His safety, when they shouldn’t, because Jesus knew what He was doing. My take here is that Jesus thinks that their faith in Him at this point was still shaky, that they hadn’t fully grasped the idea of Jesus as the Son of God, and what He was about to do in order to save them.
  1. Martha – “Your brother will rise again… I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26
  • Martha was the busy servant. In Luke 10:38-42, she made sure that Jesus got the best reception and service when He visited their home. She knew that Jesus could have healed her brother, but after voicing out how she felt (v.21) she accepted that perhaps God had a better plan. In v.27, she declared her belief in Jesus as the Messiah. This was her point of salvation.
  1. Mary – “When Jesus saw her weeping…he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled… Jesus wept.” – John 11:33-35
  • While Martha was busy, Mary was the one sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to His teachings. In Luke 10:42, Jesus said that Mary discovered the one thing that that’s worth being concerned about. It’s interesting that though Martha expressed the same grief about Him not arriving before Lazarus’ death, it was when Mary said these words with weeping that Jesus became “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” I think this is because it grieved Jesus to see that though Mary had learned the secret of intimacy, her faith in Him was still not strong enough to trust His plan and timing.
  1. The Jews (who came along with Mary) – “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, had seen what Jesus did, and believed in him.” – John 11:45
  • It wasn’t an accident that these Jews came and grieved with Mary, and followed them to witness how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. As Jesus had said, he arrived at this time so that everyone who would witness this miracle would believe in Him, and be saved.
  1. Everyone who will hear the news – “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him…” – John 11:48
  •  When they heard the miracle that Jesus had done, they became alarmed that everyone would start believing in Him. But this was Jesus’ plan–that by raising Lazarus from the dead, His glory would be revealed, and people would come to know Him, and believe in Him.
  1. Lazarus — “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” – John 11:4
  • Jesus had not only revived Lazarus’ physical body, but also his soul and spirit. I believe (though it wasn’t really stated) that by being the instrument and recipient of Jesus’ display of power and goodness, he was the one who had been impacted and changed the most.

Conclusion:

Through Raising Lazarus from the dead, God’s glory was revealed, and Jesus was able to let people know and believe that He is Messiah. That He is the Resurrection and the Life.

 

My Personal Takeaway:

You could be:

A Disciple—walking closely with God but still living in fear and having difficulty in trusting His decisions, or

A Martha—busy doing good works to please God without fully understanding who Jesus is, or

A Mary—having an intimate relationship with God but sometimes finding it hard to find joy and trust in His timing, or

A “Jew”—has witnessed how God has moved in the life of another person, or

A Hearer—someone who has heard of God’s Word and works through another person, or

A Lazarus—one who has experienced God’s miracles…

Whatever stage of spiritual walk you’re in, God will not stop doing great things to remind you and show you who He is. It could be through bad things, like sickness or suffering the pain of losing a loved one, or good things like healing and revival, but no matter what we experience, we should always trust in Him—in His timing, His ways, His purposes.

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