March 29, 2015 (Palm Sunday)
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11 is the final trigger, which caused the Jewish high priests to seek Jesus’ death (Jn. 11:53), and lead to God’s ultimate gift of love with the crucifixion and resurrection of His Son for the sins of all mankind (Jn.19-20).
“Yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” (John 11:6)
I. Here we see the fact of Jesus waiting….
Jesus disappointed Mary and Martha who wanted Him to come immediately to heal Lazarus (implied Jn.11: 3). He disappointed the disciples who wanted Jesus to heal at a distance and not go to Bethany at all (implied Jn.11:8). Both contradictory requests were made by Godly, fervent groups of people. Instead of choosing which request to grant, Jesus disappointed everyone, and deliberately returned to Bethany after two more days.
Sometimes Jesus disappoints us by waiting in answering our fervent desires, our prayers. It can be uncomfortable, confusing, and very hard. Our minds fill with questions, e.g.: “Am I sinful? What’s wrong with me? Have I done enough?” Sometimes, our questions are right, but sometimes the answer is “no” or “not right now”. We might discover that He has an answer and timing for us that we never even considered.
The fact that Jesus waits is not necessarily because our request is improper. It is not that Jesus does not care; He sometimes simply chooses to wait, which in turn causes us pain and confusion.
At these times, we need to pray that our discomfort will become smaller because it is also a fact that Jesus loves us. We experience the same paradox of the sisters: Jesus is waiting two days “because of” His love for them, not “in spite of” His love for them.(Jn. 11:5,6)
II. Why does Jesus wait? Waiting is an expression of God’s love:
1. If Jesus waits, God will be glorified.
“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
The sisters, the disciples, even Lazarus himself, experience a higher level of God’s glory by waiting for Lazarus to be raised from the dead. For us, God is waiting because He is going to do something much better and bigger for us to His glory.
2. If Jesus waits, faith is going to grow.
“Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe…” John 11:14
It is not just the miracle that makes our faith grow; waiting makes faith grow. Waiting relates to the invisible, calling forth faith when we cannot see God working. While we wait, we run out of our own resources, and know that if God does not rescue us, it will not happen.
3. If Jesus waits, He Himself is going to be glorified.
“No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
In John 7, 11, 12, 13, 21, the author uses the code word “glorified” in referring to Jesus as “crucified”. Jesus Himself knows Lazarus’ sickness, death, and resurrection is going to result in His crucifixion. And by laying down His life, Jesus will provide salvation from sin for the whole world.
Perhaps today you are waiting on God. We do not know all the “why’s” of waiting, but we do know there IS a WHY: because He loves us.
Help us to see Your love and goodness in the midst of our pain and confusion in waiting. Help us to worship you and our hearts be lifted as we wait for Your great purpose to be carried out in and through our lives.