John 11:1-10 (ESV)
1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 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.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
When Jesus was far away, his close friend Lazarus became deathly ill. The two sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, sent a messenger to Jesus, letting him know that his beloved friend was quite sick. When Jesus received the message, he declared that there was a purpose for this illness. The sickness didn’t come upon Lazarus so that he would die, but instead so that God would be glorified. The watching world would see the glory of God and the glory of the Son of God through this incident. Verse 5 reminds the reader that Jesus loved Lazarus and Martha and Mary, but when he heard about all that was happening down south in Bethany, he stayed where he was for two more days. Finally, after the two days, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.” This was dangerous because the religious leaders in Jerusalem were ready to kill Jesus. In going back, he put his life on the line. The other disciples understood this. They advised, “The Jews want to stone you. Don’t go back!” Jesus reminded them of the twelve hours in each day. At night, it is hard to work (especially without electricity). Jesus still had work to do, and the day was not done for him, although night would be coming soon. One of the things he needed to do while it was still “day” was to glorify himself and the Father through the sickness of Lazarus.
The natural response at this point, especially in light of verse 6, would be, “Wait, What? Why would Jesus stay for two more days in the far away place?” They were already about two days’ journey north of Bethany. So by waiting two more days, they didn’t reach Lazarus for at least four full days. And as the messenger said, Lazarus was on the verge of death. But Jesus knew exactly what he was doing, and his timing was impeccable. Are you in a crunch situation right now, and does it seem like Jesus is waiting longer than makes sense? Jesus is totally aware and in control of whatever difficulties you are currently dealing with. If it seems like he hasn’t moved, don’t get discouraged. Instead, decide to trust him again, even in midst of waiting for a season. In the end, the goal of all our suffering is his glory and not our own. Ask that Jesus be exalted through your weakness today.