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.

Walking from East to West: God in the Shadows

“Because I live, ye east to westshall live also.” — John 14:19

When God puts a broken life back together, He removes the scars because He builds from the inside out. And when God steadies a faltering life, He puts you on His footing.

God is in the shadows in many ways, but He is also in the bright light of what His servants do every day.

T.S. Eliot once wrote:
We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Life is not merely a geographical journey–not just east to west, or north to south. There is also an up and down–God’s way, or our way… There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny. – Ravi Zacharias

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This is the first autobiography I’ve ever set my heart on reading, and it surprised me in many ways. Ravi is one of my favorite authors, and knowing how God has woven his story together has made me appreciate the work that God has done and is still doing in my life as well.

If you’re feeling like you’re in the shadows where the darkness seems unbearable, God is there with you. And when you’re in the light, when there’s joy and peace in your heart, God is also there, rejoicing with you. In every circumstance, trust in Him.

Drive

When you came along
I stopped writing poetry
Because my words drive
The people I love away

You still left
Despite
My wordless days

And now I’ve come to learn
That it wasn’t the words
It wasn’t the poetry
It wasn’t my writing

It was me.
I drove them away.

I drove you away.

A SATIRICAL BOOK: The Screwtape Letters

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“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” 

Been wanting to read a C. S. Lewis classic since I’ve completed The Chronicles of Narnia (which I will soon be reading again), and last Christmas I was blessed to receive a compilation of all his classics as a gift. The Screwtape Letters is the first book that I’ve finished from the collection.

What it’s about: 

The book is a series of letters written by Screwtape, a senior demon in service to “Our Father Below”, to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter.  The letters are to mentor Wormwood into ensuring the damnation of a British young man that Screwtape referred to as “The Patient,” who was relatively new to Christianity. Each letter features a phase in the young man’s life and whether or not Wormwood was successful in luring him away from “The Enemy,” and into their wicked ways.

My Rating: 

5 I-didn’t-see-this-coming stars 

This book was honestly a surprise. I was preparing for a lecture-type narrative from C.S. Lewis, but instead I got a trip inside the head of a devil (which should not be assumed to be true even from his own angle as C.S. Lewis mentioned in his Preface). The letters were very convicting, that they made me stop and reflect at my own life. Though the tone was humorous, each letter tackled serious issues about a human soul, which should not be left unchecked.

The author also gave glimpses of God’s character through Screwtape’s reminders. I have highlighted a lot of statements, but this one is my favorite:

“…the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best… He cannot ‘tempt’ to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

There will be times that we’ll feel as if God has withdrawn from us, but rather than feeling scared and defeated, we must see these moments as opportunities to cling onto His character and draw closer to Him in prayer. Because the truth is He will never leave our side. And that sometimes He allows moments of desperation to teach us how to decisively seek Him with all our hearts.

 

 

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13