The story of Lazarus’ death and resurrection in John 11, has many facets. Over the centuries, there have likely been a myriad of sermons preached about various aspects of what happened. Today you can do an internet search and find plenty of information about the story and its different components. One section that doesn’t seem to get much mention, though, is verses five and six.
“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” (John 11:5-6). As I read this section again recently, the word “so” struck me. It’s just a little two-letter word, but it packs lots of meaning and inference. The King James Version uses the word “therefore.” We could substitute “because” into the sentence. It was because Jesus loved Martha and Mary that He waited two more days. Jesus knew that if He waited, Lazarus would be long dead by the time He arrived at Bethany. But He waited because He loved Martha and Mary.
Some people might think, Hmmph! That doesn’t seem like love to me. Our tendency is to echo Martha’s words, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Let me try to translate the underlying meaning and intent of her words. “Lord, I know You could have prevented this from happening. If You really loved me, You would have.” Isn’t that likely what Martha was thinking? Isn’t that what you and I often think when we’re in the midst of difficult circumstances? Yet Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. And He did it because He loved them.
Sometimes we go through difficulties, not because God is mad at us, but because He loves us. We don’t always see it that way. The pain and heartache felt by Martha and Mary was real. They agonized over their brother’s death. But it happened because the Lord loved them.
I challenge you to trust God’s love even when things don’t seem to be going your way.