Read: John 11:1-15
Lazarus was apparently a friend of Jesus who he loved. His sisters were Mary and Martha, and Mary was the one who washed his feet with her tears and anointed (John 12:3). They lived in the village of Bethany close to Jerusalem. Jesus stayed in Bethany from time to time when he was in Jerusalem for one reason of another. Mary had come to Jesus because Lazarus was sick, but Jesus knew what he intended to do with Lazarus – raise him from the dead so that the Son of God could be glorified through it. Jesus knew that a miracle in this order of magnitude would certainly get the attention of many. Jesus did not go down for 2 more days, and Lazarus died and was laid in a tomb in that time.
After this, Jesus went down to see the family in Bethany. His disciples were scared because the Jews were looking to stone him for claiming to be God (John 10). Jesus had escaped them, and went into the Judean countryside for some time. When the disciples object, Jesus gives a cryptic reply, talking about walking in the light of day and the light of night. Jesus was saying that they cannot wait forever. Jesus knew that his time was upon him, and that soon he would go to the cross (John 12:23). Jesus knew that Lazarus was dead, and it was not time for him to go raise him from the dead. He had waited long enough for him to die, and that was sufficient to perform what needed to be done to glorify him.
Jesus had spoken cryptically concerning Lazarus, saying that he was asleep rather than actually dead. The disciples did not understand this, so Jesus spoke plainly so they would. He also comments that he was glad he was not there when it happened so that they may believe. Had Jesus been there, they would have probably blamed him, saying that he allowed Lazarus to die, and even if he had raised him from the dead, Jesus would have been a stumbling block for them, and they would have not believed. But in any case, Jesus knew what he had to do, and he went down to see his friends in Bethany.
Jesus’ actions did not always make sense to people, even to those who were closest to him. They thought he was not going to see Lazarus because the Jews were looking to stone him. Jesus was not waiting for this reason, but was waiting for Lazarus to die so that he could raise him from the dead and glorify the Son of God. Even so, had he gone, it is likely he would have been a stumbling block too. Christians reading the story in John have the privilege of knowing what happened after the fact and seeing how it all fits together. What is not always so certain is what is going on at the present. God is working in the lives of every Christian, and sometimes he waits for events to pass so that he can bring glory to himself through it. In any case, God wants to use these circumstances to draw people into faith rather than become a stumbling block to belief. Sometimes, God’s reasons are not revealed to us. Many struggle with this and do not trust God in the absence of reasons for particular events. What one has to affirm at these points is what one does know is true, and trust in these things. God does have a plan – he wants to draw all everyone to himself (John 12:32) and we know that he is already carrying it out through what he did on the cross. He will continue to carry it out until he returns.
Lord, you are God and I am not!
Please help me understand how you work but help me trust when I cannot understand.