The life, testimony, ministry, and teachings of one Jesus from Nazareth
“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.”
Did you know that God loves you? And that His love for you surpasses that of all the people in your life—siblings, parents, friends, family, spouses—put together?! The psalmist said that as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him. And through our study of the gospel of John, we’ve seen God’s inexpressible love put into action. So this week as we begin chapter eleven, we’ll discover another example of Divine love, displayed in an exceedingly unexpected way.
Everyone knows the story of the resurrection of Lazarus. You probably can’t remember when you first learned it, maybe it was from Sunday school or perhaps an illustrated children’s Bible. However, as we study this chapter we discover so much more than just the story of a man raised from the dead. Instead we find the glorified Savior. Now this account begins in a rather odd fashion. News reached Jesus that Lazarus, a close friend, is seriously ill and that his sisters are requesting Jesus’ presence in order that the Great Physician might heal their brother. The following verses, five and six, depict Jesus’ surprising response. We are told that Jesus deeply, unconditionally, agape loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. So out of this perfect, divine love, what did Jesus do? He stayed away! The exact opposite of what Mary and Martha wanted Him to do and what would have seemed right! If you deeply loved someone, say a sibling or parent, would you stay away if you heard they were on their death bed? Especially if you knew that you would be able to heal them? No!!! You’d be on the first plane, rushing to be by their side. So why didn’t Jesus hurry to Bethany?
The answers to the “whys” in life are often difficult or impossible to answer on this side of heaven. And many times when we are given the answer we are completely perplexed by it, just as the disciples were totally confused by Jesus’ response to Lazarus’ illness, even though their patient Teacher explained why He must stay away. Lazarus had to die in order for him to be resurrected. If Jesus had merely healed His friend’s infirmity, the miracle would not have been so great or as impacting. Everything happened according to a divine plan. And Jesus showed incredible love to Lazarus and his siblings, even though they didn’t feel it at the time. He wanted them—Lazarus, Mary, and Martha—and His disciples to truly believe that He was the Savior so that they could be saved and spend eternity with Him, not merely have their troubles solved; therefore, Jesus executed tough love because He had a bigger picture in mind. Likewise, when you encounter trials, problems, or suffering and don’t see the Healer at work even though you, like Mary and Martha, asked Him to come, remember that God loves you unconditionally, all the time. Divine love is not a feeling, it’s a choice, and, therefore, we might not always feel God’s love in our lives, but we must know and believe that it’s there and real and utterly impossible to break.
So the question I pose to you this week is….do YOU truly believe—not feel—that God loves you? Will you TRUST in His love for you even when it doesn’t seem like He’s there when you need Him most?
God always loves us and is always with us. Just because we may not feel His love or His presence doesn’t mean that He’s not there; it’s simply a test for our faith. Therefore, strive to pass the test with flying colors!
“It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”