“So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” – John 11:6

This has always struck me as an interesting little anecdote. On hearing that his good friend Lazarus was gravely ill, Jesus waits for two days. It doesn’t say that Jesus needed to work on something for two more days. It doesn’t tell us that Jesus couldn’t leave for some other important ministry reason. It is written with absolutely no excuses, as if Jesus, the great healer, just decided to get a little rest in while his friend slowly passed away. I’ve often thought that this might not be the best example for us when trying to “live like Jesus.” When a crisis hits, when someone really needs your help, this passage might not be the best place to turn with the question WWJD? What would Jesus do? Because what Jesus does here is not what we would or should do.

You see, Jesus isn’t giving them a lesson on Pastoral Care. He’s got a much bigger lesson in store for them! In verses 14-15, Jesus explains exactly what that lesson is when he tells his confused disciples plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake, I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” Did you catch that? Jesus is glad that someone died?! Now, clearly, he isn’t glad because his friend died, or he wouldn’t weep about it later. Instead, he is glad because of the opportunity his death will give him to teach us something way more valuable than momentary happiness. You see, in this scenario, Jesus could have made his disciples and Lazarus’ family a whole lot happier if he would have hurried over and healed. But he didn’t because he had a purpose in his waiting. Jesus chose to not rush in and save the day so that he could teach his followers what it means to believe. He wanted to teach them about the nature of faith.

The truth is, whether we like it or not, faith and waiting go hand in hand. Jesus knew he would not be around forever in the flesh to fix all their problems at the drop of a hat. He knew most of life, especially the life of faith, involves waiting and hoping for what we don’t quite see yet (see Hebrews 11:1). Sure enough, we often find ourselves waiting for justice, waiting for reconciliation, and waiting for healing. In fact, most of the time we are still waiting. I don’t know about you, but most of the time when I pray for healing, it doesn’t seem to come. At least not yet. And not here. But I think Jesus’ point is we can’t hold him to our timeline. You see, faith is not just the belief that Jesus can, but the hope that he will one day when he wants to, on his timeline. And sure enough, we can have confidence that he will because he did. We know the same power that raised Lazarus from the grave, and the same power that later raised Jesus from the grave will eventually raise our feeble bodies, giving us ultimate healing. But until then we wait. Let’s be thankful that we can wait with confidence.

Josh Rose
Teaching Pastor

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