Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. (Jn. 11:1-6)
As I was reading this over my coffee this morning, it struck me. (Funny how that works – I’ve read this countless times, and I didn’t exactly miss it before, but it didn’t strike me like it did today).
Because Jesus loved Lazarus and Mary and Martha;
And because he heard that Lazarus was sick…he waited two more days.
Think about that. Lazarus is dying. Jesus can heal him. But instead, Jesus delays. Lazarus dies. And he loved them.
This is astounding. Imagine what Mary and Martha were going through. For days and days they wait for Jesus to show up. Jesus delays. He dawdles. He stays two more days. Lazarus gets sicker.
Finally Lazarus dies. Mary’s heart breaks. Martha’s heart breaks. Where was Jesus? Why didn’t he come? Does he not care?
(If you have never asked those questions, have you really lived on this earth? How often do we wonder the same thing. How much more? How much longer? Why won’t he stop this? Why won’t he heal?)
But at the beginning of it all, Jesus tells them why. “That the Son of God might be glorified through it.”
There is something about Jesus that hadn’t been revealed yet. He hadn’t been “glorified”, that is, he hadn’t been seen for who he truly was – the Resurrection and the Life.
They all thought that not even Jesus could do anything about death. Lazarus is dead. It’s over.
And then Jesus says, “Lazarus, come forth!”
When God allows the pain to take hold; when God allows yet another thing to strike a blow; when God allows the devil to ravish and devour; when God allows us to go as low as we think we can – and then he takes us even lower –
It isn’t because he hates us. It isn’t because he hasn’t forgotten us. It isn’t because he is negligent or evil.
It is because we close our eyes and think we can solve all of our own problems. We can fix this, if we do just one more thing.
But when death occurs, when we reach that point where there is NO fixing it, NO coming back, NO solution – THAT is when we begin to see Jesus for who he is.
Not even death can stop the power of the Son of God.
Not great sin, not great despair, not great pain or great illness – not even death.
We have a hard time seeing it until we do. And that is worth everything.
If the Son of God can be revealed in our suffering and weakness, our pain and sorrow, then it is worth it all. No one falls through the cracks. He never fails.
The day will come when he will call you out of this tomb as well. And there will be no more tears and no more curse.
When we’ve seen the tears and the curse and know what it is to suffer great loss, then we are the first to shout for joy when victory comes.