Didn’t I Tell You…?

“He loved them, so He waited.”

Mary and Martha summoned Jesus from Bethany when their brother Lazarus was sick. Mary, the extravagant worshipper, who had poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and washed them with her hair, called to the Savior when her brother was days from death. He could have come immediately. But he waited, and here is what my Bible told me this morning:

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was. (John 11: 5-6)

Okay, so let me get this straight: Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. We have a list of recorded miracles of Jesus that is pages long, and then there are the ones not recorded. He could have gone that very day, as soon as He heard of the illness, and cured him. For crying out loud, he could have sent healing over to Lazarus without even leaving His chair, which would have made more sense, because the Jews in Judea and where Lazarus was in Bethany wanted Jesus dead. But He waited.

Oh, wait: No, the text doesn’t say, “but He waited.” It says, “So He waited.” This was intentional. He loved them, so He waited and let Lazarus die and hang out in the tomb for four days. He let the process of decay began.

On their way to Bethany, Jesus shared with the disciples that Lazarus died. Initially, He spoke in vieled language, saying that Lazarus was sleeping, but the disciples failed to understand, so He then spoke plainly, saying that Lazarus was dead.

Thomas, so beautifully blunt and masterfully sarcastic, fearful of the journey and the opposition they would face on the journey and in Bethany, said: “Great. Now Lazarus is dead, and we are making an unnecessary journey into enemy territory. We might as well be buried with the dead guy because we are about to become dead guys too.” (The International Megan translation).

But then Jesus revealed the secret behind his “so”, the mystery agenda behind His delay on healing:
Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.

This delay is intentional. Though the wait doesn’t make sense to anyone involved yet, they will soon understand the magnitude of this painful postponement.

When Jesus arrives, the greeting and the grieving take place as Martha meets Him:

Martha: the responsible one, swallowing back the lump that threatens to explode into a cascade of untimely emotions, greeting Jesus and giving Him the details that He already knows of Lazarus’ death, time of death, cause of death, the arrangements for next steps; Looking at Jesus with eyes full of questions: “Lord if you had been here, my brother may not have died.” And as He tells her of His plan to raise Lazarus, she falls back onto the theology that she knows and understands: “Yes, he will rise again on the last day.” But Jesus leads her to His character and identity as the most high God: “I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this?” To which she responds faithfully and responsibly with head knowledge, “Yes Lord. I believe in You.”

Mary: huddled, cradling her knees to her chest, crouched in her secret hiding place, with her heart bleeding in her chest with loss, disappointment, confusion, and defeat, and Martha comes in to summon her to Jesus. With the mention of His name, she leaps to her feet in desperate hope. She runs, no, she sprints, to the meeting place where Jesus met Martha. The Jews are on her heels, panting, trying to keep up with the girl of passion and extravagant love. When she reaches her Lord, she collapses at His feet as she had at their first meeting, yet this time, she has no perfume, just the river of her own tears of grief. And though she and her sister are polar opposites, they both make the same declaration upon greeting Jesus: “Lord, if you were here, our brother would not have died.”

This utterance that falls out of their lips is both a statement of faith and an accusation. It is a declaration that they know Jesus as Healer. It is also a brokenhearted question of “Why didn’t you come?”

But her Lord meets Mary in her grief, and He weeps deeply with her, their tears intermingling, as Jesus, the master over death, weeps over the death of a beloved friend whom He is about to resurrect.

But everything was about to be turned right-side-up again, long after what people had decided was the expiration date of the miracle they were seeking. And all of this because the miracle Jesus had planned was far greater than the requested miracle:

“Did I not say to you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Yes, Lord, we believed. And then he died. Did we miss it? Did you forget? Did you hear us?

“Did I not say to you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Yes, Lord, but he’s been in the grave for four days. Decay has begun. He stinks. Death’s victory is established and solid.

“Yes, my child. That’s why I delayed. I have a new kind of miracle, and it is going to be a world-changing miracle. You and your brother will be showcases for a new level of glory, and it is called victory over death. You asked for victory over sickness, but I have so much more to accomplish here, in you.

You haven’t seen anything yet.

“Did I not say to you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Yes, Lord, increase my faith. I believe. Help my unbelief. I will wait past what seems to be the expiration date of my miracle, because I know You.

And He says, “Alright then. Let’s do this. Open that tomb.”
“Lazarus!! Do you hear me? Come forth!”

My prayer as I wait:

Jesus, I thought that You would have come by now. I thought that I wouldn’t have had to lay all these dreams to rest. I thought I wouldn’t have had to submit to the restraints of illness for all these years or be dressed in the grave clothes of a broken body. But a voice echoes in the back of my mind: “Didn’t I tell you if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

Yes, Lord, that’s what you told me.

And He says, “Trust my timing.”

10 thoughts on “Didn’t I Tell You…?

  1. *”You asked for victory over sickness, but I have so much more to accomplish here, in you.”

    Wow! We see this clearly her, how often do we miss it in our own life?

    1. It’s so hard to zoom out in our own lives sometimes. I’m so thankful for the perspective here, because it allows me to step back in my own life!

      1. Exactly! 😁

  2. Beautifully written! Thanks for sharing! Just what my heart needed to hear…

    1. It was a super divine process of revelation. I’ve been praying for dreams and visions, and they are coming!

      1. Glory to God! Exciting news!

  3. An expiration date on my miracle…Wow, your description really hit me. I never saw that before in the accounting of Lazarus’ resurrection, and I never saw that correlation to my own life before now. Thank you for this reminder and encouragement today!

    1. I never did either until I was wrestling with it in my prayer closet yesterday. I love how a His word is living and active!

  4. So very very true! Our thoughts, our ways, out timing, is not His. It is only ours to leave it in His hands and trust Our Almighty Savior and God.

    1. I get so frustrated that I’m not in control, but it is in fact such a relief. I would be lousy at directing my life.

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Pastor Al Gilbert

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