There’s a story in the New Testament of the Bible – it’s written in the book called John, in the eleventh chapter. It’s a story about a miracle. It’s a story about a man who was raised from the dead. It’s a story about an encounter that Jesus had with Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
This man named Lazarus was one of Jesus’ good friends. He was living in Bethany while Jesus traveled, taught and healed all over Israel. While on his journey, Jesus got word that Lazarus was sick, and it wasn’t the lay-low-for-a-few-days-and-feel-better-sick but rather the gonna-die-any-minute sick. One would think that Jesus, caring for and loving Lazarus, would hurry back to spend time with his friend and possibly do something about it. After all, he was healing people all over Israel, so why not his good buddy? But, instead, he waited.
He waited two more days. He didn’t appear to be interruptible. Jesus, who had opened the eyes of a blind man, waited two more days. Jesus, who had healed the cripple, waited two more days. Jesus, who spent his time healing a bleeding woman, waited two more days before even beginning to travel back to Bethany. And by the time he got there, Lazarus was dead. And he had been for four days.
It’s interesting to picture the scene as Jesus returns. Mary and Martha are both hurried to find him. In fact, rumors get to Martha that he had arrived to the city, and she runs to meet him before he could even get to the house. Both of them have similar greetings, asking why Jesus let him die. Why didn’t he come sooner? Why wasn’t he there to heal him?
That would probably be my reaction. Jesus – where were you?! If you were here, he wouldn’t have died! There is where I cry. There is where I talk to my friends. There is where I find myself angry and frustrated and confused and annoyed. There is where I have no answers.
Yet there, in that very same place, is where I am humbled.
And there is where we find Mary and Martha. Based on their expectations for Jesus, it didn’t make sense. He allowed Lazarus to die.
But Jesus had a different plan in mind. He chose to wait. He chose not to heal Lazarus before he died. He chose to let Mary and Martha and all the others who loved Lazarus mourn his death, bury him traditionally and appropriately and run to Jesus.
It was then and only then that Jesus was able to shine as he raised Lazarus from the dead. It was then and only then that these privileged people were permitted to get a glimpse of the Lord God’s astounding power and authority. It was then and only then that God received the glory, and it was then and only then that it “was a turn around for many of the Jews who were with Mary. They saw what Jesus did, and believed in him.” (John 11:45, The Message)
And that was worth the wait.