“Lord, if you had been here…”
Today something struck me about the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. We’re all familiar with this story. Mary and Martha sent for Jesus to cure their sick brother. Jesus responded by saying this:
John 11:4 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.”
Indeed, God was glorified. I would imagine the messengers skedaddled back to Martha and Mary to tell them the good news, but Jesus didn’t follow. In fact, he intentionally stayed longer and didn’t leave until he knew Lazarus had died. Then he left. It took him four days to get there. It’s about 50 miles from the Jordan to Bethany. At an average pace of 3 miles per hour, it would have taken 16 hours to walk that distance. Jesus didn’t arrive until four days AFTER Lazarus died, assuming he was buried the same day as per tradition.
What struck me about this today is that Mary and Martha asked Jesus for help, and he assured them through messenger that Lazarus wouldn’t die. But Lazarus did die. I’m starting to think that they trusted Jesus at his word, but Lazarus died. Was Jesus wrong? Didn’t he know what was to happen? Why did he say that the illness wouldn’t lead to death?
Furthermore, it struck me that Martha and Mary may very well have been extremely hurt that Jesus took so long to arrive. See what Mary said:
John 11:32-33 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was greatly moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.
Put yourself in their place for a moment. The thought occurred to me today that they could have BLAMED Jesus for all this. After all, Jesus said one thing, yet another happened; and he certainly could have made it back in time to heal him. Besides that, they all would have known that Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant from afar. They knew Jesus didn’t need to touch or even see someone to heal them.
So, while the text doesn’t specifically say it, it is entirely possible that these two women were deeply hurt by all this. Perhaps they may have felt that Jesus didn’t care or was even reckless. I don’t know. I guess I never really thought about it from their perspective like this. In the end, I know that Jesus did have everything under control all along and that it all played out according to plan. To God’s glory.
Does this have implication in my life? It certainly does. It means that God is in control and if something bad happens it is for a bigger purpose than I might understand.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
I have reason to trust God and be hopeful – even in the most dire of circumstances.
Father, thank you. Amen.