When we read John 11:1-44, we typically focus on Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Sometimes we focus on Jesus' compassion, but we usually can't take our eyes of the stinky dead-man wrapped in cloth. But there's something more profound going on here. The clue is found in verses 4, 5-6, 14-15, 21, 32, and 40. Let me summarize:
4 - Jesus learns that Lazarus is sick but says he will not die but that it "is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."
5-6 - When Martha and Mary sent for Jesus to come and heal Lazarus, Jesus "stayed two days longer in the place where he was" because he love them.
14-15 - Jesus said, "Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe."
21 - Martha said to Jesus, "Jesus, Lord you had been here, my brother would not have died."
32 - Mary said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
40 - Martha argued with Jesus about rolling the stone from the tomb and Jesus replies, "Die I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?"
This week’s study is one that most people refuse to believe. Yes, Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead, but that’s not what an unbelieving world struggles with. Those in the world (and even some who call themselves ‘Christian’ fail to believe that Jesus’ ways are better than our ways.
Jesus' timing is usually difficult for us to understand, but his timing has a purpose. His ways are not often what we would prefer, but his methods are just as divine as he is. A baker puts a cake in an oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. As a kid I often wondered why a baker wouldn't crank it up to 700 and get a cake in half the time. (If you don't know why this doesn't work, I suggest you give it a try. . . but be sure to have a fire extinguisher near by.)
We want our problems solved right now. We love the microwave. It works fast but you won't often find one in a top chef's kitchen. While it is not always the case, Jesus typically likes to cook with marinades. He's a master chef who likes things to simmer for a long while. Smoked brisket takes a really long time, but cooking it any differently makes for terrible BBQ. Our microwave methods don't make good food, and trying to do things in our timing rather than God's is even worse.
While we want the microwave, Jesus uses marinade. And the most difficult part is knowing that there's a good reason for Jesus' timing.
As you discuss this text with your family, Bible study, or Fellowship Group, here are some questions to consider:
1. Have you ever had a need and it felt like Jesus took longer than you would have preferred to meet that need? How did that go? How did you feel?
2. What are you praying for right now? Is your timing the same as Jesus’ timing?
3. Have you ever been tempted to say to Jesus, “If only you would have been here. . . “only to see him work in ways that were better than you expected? What did you learn from that?
4. Has there ever been a time when Jesus told you to do something and you argued with him (i.e., “But Jesus, Lazarus has been dead and he’ll stink.”)? Why did you argue?
5. In what areas of your life do you want Jesus to work faster than he is? What are you learning because of Jesus’ timing? In what ways do you think Jesus timing will help you believe and see God’s glory?
For the Kingdom!