He Loved, He Heard, He Stayed

“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha… So the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was… Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’

“Jesus said to [Martha], ‘Your brother will rise again… I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world…’ Jesus wept. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’

“Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb… [and] said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha said, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone…. He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out… Many of the Jews therefore believed in him.” John 11:1,3-6,14-15,17,21,23,25-27,35-36,38-41,43-45

This is a love story between Jesus and His friends, us included. As is true with much of life, intense love means intense pain, and sadness. But from the start, Jesus saw (and procured) the glory in it. He saw the lessons, He saw the important picture they needed in their minds to prepare them for what was ahead. So in His love, He stayed, and waited. That’s what He does with and for His friends. (John 15:15)

Jesus had His disciples wait so they observed His serenity in a larger purpose. He stayed to give everyone time to contemplate deeper things, to agonize over Lazarus’s death and to long for life, restoration, and heaven. He allowed suffering that identifies us with Him as we share in His succor. He allowed time to relinquish the ability to do anything, to cast themselves helpless on Him, to turn their eyes from the present situation to the Lord, from whom comes all help. Salvation’s meaning shines and faith flourishes as they rise from death and decay. (Psalm 121:1-2; Philippians 3:10-11)

What is our undefinable place of pain and waiting and uncertain future? Our current urgency? Our present grief? Do we believe Jesus is interceding for us and actively working? He hears our spoken and unspoken, and orders the clock and circumstances as long as it takes to set up and unfold His glory. Will we trust His timing and mysterious ways, knowing He loves us to death, and back? (Romans 8:28,34)

“He comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found.” ~Isaac Watts (1719)

Lord, teach me learn the lessons You teach while I long for Your coming. May I see and promote Your glory in every circumstance.

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