Have you ever really needed Jesus to show up and stop something awful from happening? Of course you have! We all have. Now, have you ever made the connection that instead of His immediate response, you heard some obscure, prophetic word like, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it”? John 11:4, NKJV. OK, I probably lost some of you here, but the truth is, I bet you have heard the promise of help at some point in your life, but then experienced delay in the response. “Where are you, Lord?” we mutter in our hearts. Cammy and I honestly used to say, “Well, Lord, You missed a great opportunity to glorify Yourself!” as we watched our request seemingly ignored.
Martha and Mary are beside themselves in grief. Their brother Lazarus is already wrapped in grave clothes, while Jesus delays in His coming. Finally He comes, and they can’t hide their disappointment for a second: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11: 21, 32. In modern language, they would have said, “SERIOUSLY, LORD?” Both Martha and Mary accuse the Lord of negligence. Martha tried to tie up her feelings in future faith, and Mary could only wail and weep. Someone they loved so deeply was dead. And Jesus didn’t come.
But now He is here.
Jesus followed the Father’s voice and agreed with the Glory of God to be seen through this sickness. Martha and Mary wanted answers; they wanted resolution. Jesus couldn’t answer or resolve. He had to follow the Father’s voice. No faith was anywhere to be seen, only grief-stricken souls. Jesus groaned in the Spirit, He wept, He groaned in Himself. And then He prayed.
Now, let’s turn this around. This time it’s you. Someone has sought some kind of help from you: maybe your faith, or prayers, advice, or any kind of intervention. You sought the Lord and He confirmed His intentions for Glory, but does not release you to come to their immediate aid. How hard is that? To keep ourselves in the Glory of God while experiencing the pressure of the troubles touching those we love. We stand unable to respond as asked.
Now, we are not Jesus. We don’t hear as well, and are not yet as confident that in whatever we ask, He will do, so that the Father might be glorified. But we are learning to hear His voice, to live by faith and not by sight. To be led by the Spirit, not our feelings.
Honesty in prayer is a huge way to discover this and discover God in this. Finding ourselves inside of Scripture is another way. I know the feelings of Martha and Mary too well. The “Martha faith”: practical believing for the future, but also ready to stop any excesses– like taking the stone away from the grave– knowing there will be a huge stench. After all, death is bad enough, but to bring all the stink out, too? Must we? I know the “Mary faith”, too—weeping, refusing to be comforted. Can’t go on, no reason, it’s all over. Why try anymore?
I have been where Jesus stood, too; but again, I am not Jesus. I can’t wrap up a lousy burial with a resurrection, can you? I have stood with the same questions, like, “What could I have done?” Then, “What should I have done?” And ending with: “Why didn’t I?” (And so forth and so on, until I felt like I was supposed to have been Jesus and saved everyone!)
John 11 is a chapter of the greatest miracle in Jesus’ ministry, with no outward support or faith from anyone— only Jesus’ inward conviction and connection to the Father. Jesus did this miracle by the Father’s will and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did the heavy lifting and the resurrection miracle sealed His faith, while all of the rulers in Jerusalem concluded, He must die! Can you imagine?
It is my personal comfort and faith that Jesus will raise His Church in the same fashion as He did Lazarus. Out from our tombs, wrapped in our grave clothes, He will call forth a glorious Church! Many will believe when they see the Glory of God; others will fear and will plot our demise. But it won’t matter, for Resurrection Life has come! Jesus’ voice has been heard, His Church has risen, and the knowledge of the Glory of God is covering the earth! Then the end will come.
Why do I believe this? Because Jesus will return as He left! He will appear in His church in GLORY. And all of our fears and accusations such as, “Where were You?” or “Why didn’t You come?” will be swallowed up, along with death and tears. He will come, we will hear Him, and we will appear with Him in Glory.
With this in mind, remember, Beloved: Delay is not His negligence or indifference. It is for His Glory!