Most people know the shortest verse in the Bible. "Jesus wept." John 11:35. Many of those people know it's in reference to the death and resurrection of Lazarus. They know, and some giggle, when Martha, Lazarus' sister, tells Jesus that his four day old corpse stinks. They know that Jesus arrived too late to heal Lazarus before he died. Wait, what? Jesus arrived too late! Or did He?
There are these incredible nuggets of Truth found in the beginning of the chapter. I'll let it speak for itself.
"Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick."
When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." John 4:1-7
Okay, you shouldn't have missed it, especially since I bolded it, but go back and look at each word carefully. It starts with "so" which means you need to look at the sentence before it. Jesus loved them, so when he heard Lazarus was sick he waited. HE WAITED! Aren't you thinking He should have hurried up and headed for Bethany when He heard the news? Especially since He loved them! He could have gotten there in time! In time for what? To do another miracle of healing the sick.
Now, I'm not making light of His healings. They were miracles, and they brought many people to believe in Him. But at this point, near the end of His time on Earth, a simple (for Jesus) healing wasn't going to cut it. Lazarus needed to die. He needed to be dead, and buried, and stinking. Jesus needed to stay away until then, because He loved them. Most of the other people He healed He didn't know. Well, He knew them because He's God, but He didn't have an earthly relationship with them, but He did with Lazarus and his sisters. His healing of the others brought Him believers, and skeptics, and He could heal them and go on with His day. Why was this time different?
In verse 4, He basically is saying this sickness isn't about death, but about glory for God. Everyone, except for Jesus, is focused on the sickness and the resulting death from the sickness. Jesus knows what will happen after the death and that is where His focus is. He knows that Lazarus will come out of the tomb and many more will come to believe in Him, and some will go an tell the religious leaders what He has done. He knows that will further motivate them to seek to put Him to death, which will ultimately lead to His death and resurrection. This story isn't just about Lazarus and his sisters after all!
The story doesn't stop there. It continues today. He still waits, sometimes two days, sometimes two months, sometimes two years, and sometimes much loner than that. He knows all about the sickness, trauma, struggles, finances, and dangers in our lives. He loves us, just like He loved Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, so He waits. He waits until what seems like death, and sometimes until it really stinks, and then He comes. Why? Because, He sees beyond what we see. He sees how this awfulness of our lives will bring about His glory and bring others into relationship with Him. He could come and stop the sickness, heal our hurt, or give us that clear direction we seek, but He loves us enough to wait. He waits until the right moment. He could have left for Bethany as soon as He heard, because Lazarus would have been dead two days instead of four by the time He could there, but He waited. Maybe Lazarus was stinky enough yet from only two days in the tomb. Jesus needed him to be good and smelly, so He waited. He waits as much time as needed in our lives too. He waits until others, and even ourselves, can't possibly see anyway out except death of some kind, death of an opportunity, a dream or a relationship.
The rest of the story is that Jesus does raise Lazarus from the dead. He does gain others who believe in Him. The rest of your story? My story? He does wait because He loves us. He comes exactly on time, when He will be most glorified. Does that mean the wait isn't as agonizing as it was was Lazarus, who most have suffered before he died? Or for his sisters as the watched their brother die, prepared him for burial, and watched him be buried? Does that mean that it won't be for each of us as well? Unfortunately, no. It will be, but we can trust in the Truth that He loves us. And that is why He waits.