, , , , , ,

See the source image


After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Master, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.[1]

John 11:11-15

Here we see the care and compassion of our Master. It appeared somewhat callous to begin with.

  • Lazarus is sick.
  • Jesus intentionally delays going to see him.
  • The disciples don’t understand at all what is going on.

Jesus knows what is going to happen. Jesus knows the power of God will raise Lazarus from the dead. Fasten your seat belts, it is all going down in an amazing way.

After 4 days in the grave, Jesus is going to raise Lazarus from the dead. This will shock everyone. Many are going to believe Jesus because of this amazing show of the power of God.

To some extent, for many this will seal the whole deal. This will rock the world of everyone.

This is a stunning truth about Jesus. Jesus is my Master. Jesus is also my friend. Not because of anything I’ve done. It is all because of Jesus.

Consider this from the Amplified translation: “When Jesus saw Mary sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit [to the point of anger at the sorrow caused by death] and was troubled.

Jesus cares. Jesus cares more than I can comprehend.

  • I need to believe that good news.
  • I need to treasure it deeply.
  • I need to get it deep in my heart and soul.

The disciples were perplexed about several matters. If Jesus loved Lazarus so much, why did He permit him to get sick? Even more, why did He delay going to the sisters? For that matter, could He not have healed Lazarus at a distance, as He did the nobleman’s son? The record makes it clear that there was a strong love relationship between Jesus and this family; yet our Master’s behavior seems to contradict this love.

God’s love for His own is not a pampering love; it is a perfecting love.This is tough to get. The fact that He loves us, and we love Him is no guarantee that we will be sheltered from the problems and pains of life. After all, the Father loves His Son: and yet the Father permitted His beloved Son to drink the cup of sorrow and experience the shame and pain of the Cross. We must never think that love and suffering are incompatible. Certainly, they unite in Jesus the Messiah.

Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ sickness or even healed it from where He was; but He chose not to. What? Yes, He choose not to. He saw in this sickness an opportunity to glorify the Father. It is not important that we disciples are comfortable, but it is important that we glorify God in all that we do.

In their “prayer” to Jesus, the two sisters did not tell Him what to do. They simply informed Him that there was a need, and they reminded Him of His love for Lazarus. They knew that it was dangerous for Jesus to return to Judea because the Jewish leaders were out to destroy Him. Perhaps they hoped that He would “speak the word” and their brother would be restored to health.

  • Our Master’s message to the sisters did not say that their brother would not die.
  • It promised only that death would not be the ultimate result, for the ultimate result would be the glory of God.
  • (Note that once again, Jesus called Himself “the Son of God.”) He wanted them to lay hold of this promise; in fact, He reminded Martha of this message when she balked at having the tomb opened.

When we find ourselves confronted by disease, disappointment, delay, and even death, our only encouragement is the Word of God. We must live by faith and not by sight. Their situation seemed hopeless, yet the sisters knew that Jesus was the Master of every situation. The promise in Psalm 50:15 finds a parallel here: “And call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.”

What about our Master’s delay? He was not waiting for Lazarus to die, for he was already dead. Jesus lived on a divine timetable, and He was waiting for the Father to tell Him when to go to Bethany. The fact that the man had been dead four days gave greater authenticity to the miracle and greater opportunity for people to believe, including His own disciples.

When our Master Jesus announced that He was returning to Judea, His disciples were alarmed, because they knew how dangerous it would be. (Bethany is only about two miles from Jerusalem.) But Jesus was willing to lay down His life for His friends. He knew that His return to Judea and the miracle of raising Lazarus would precipitate His own arrest and death.

The Master calmed their fears by reminding them that He was on the Father’s schedule, and that nothing could harm them. This is an important theme in the Gospel of John. But the disciples not only misunderstood the schedule, but they also misunderstood the reason for the visit. They thought that, if Lazarus was sleeping, he was getting better! It was another example of their inability to grasp spiritual truth. “If he is sleeping, he must be improving—so let’s not bother to go to Bethany!”

Then He told them openly that Lazarus was dead. Death for the believer is compared to sleep. He did not say He was glad that His friend died, but that He was glad He had not been there; for now He could reveal to His disciples His mighty power. The result would be glory to God and the strengthening of their faith.

If Thomas’ attitude was any indication, the faith of the disciples certainly needed strengthening! The name Thomas means “twin” in the Aramaic language; the Greek equivalent is Didymus. We do not know whose twin he was, but there are times when all of us seem to be his twin when we consider our unbelief and depressed feelings! It was Thomas who demanded evidence before he would accept the truth of our Lord’s resurrection.

Thomas was a doubting man, but we must confess that he was a devoted man: he was willing to go with Jesus into danger and risk his own life. We may not admire his faith, but we can certainly applaud his loyalty and courage.[2]

  • That courage is what Jesus loved in him.
  • Jesus wants to see our courage.
  • Will we follow him, even when it does not make sense and others mock us?

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 11:11–15). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 334–335). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.