JESUS LOVED THEM. John says so.
He loved all three of them — Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 11:3, 5).
And that’s why He waited.
The sister’s sent urgent news to the Lord. It was a sort of first-century 911 call for medical assistance. And they didn’t say, “Lazarus is sick,” but “he whom You love is sick.” Jesus not only knew the identity of the one who was ailing, but He recognized him as His dear friend.
Jesus wasn’t that far away either. He could have rushed to Lazarus’ side and healed him. All would be well, the sickness would be over, and their lives would continue as normal.
But oddly enough, Jesus didn’t make the trip. He didn’t hasten to Bethany and “treat” Lazarus’ condition. There was no hurried journey to see his beloved companion, in fact, just the opposite. Not only did Jesus not go to Lazarus (not that He needed to “go” at all — cf. Luke 7:1-10) as the sister’s anticipated, but he waited two more days! In a sense, the Great Physician failed to make a house-call and, in-so-doing, lost his first and only patient.
Think about it.
Yes, knowing Lazarus’ precarious condition, Jesus waited.
For a long time I didn’t understand that. Evidently Mary and Martha didn’t make sense of it either. They both rebuked the Lord for His slow response (vv. 21, 32). “If You had only been here earlier…”
It was Jesus’ fault.
He shouldn’t have waited; He should have come immediately.
He had wasted precious time.
If He really loved the family as they believed, He would have virtually run to see about Lazarus’ welfare.
Maybe He didn’t love them as they thought.
So why did Jesus wait…?
It wasn’t a matter of lethargy, lack of love, or apathy, dear reader, it was a matter of faith. You see, Jesus could have made his way to Bethany and healed Lazarus, and Mary and Martha’s faith would have been enhanced. Instead, Christ chose to wait until Lazarus was dead, buried, and in the tomb (a total of four days) and THEN raise him up!
Because He loved them, and because He was concerned with the sister’s spiritual maturation, Jesus waited until after Lazarus was dead and buried to show that not even a crypt and a corpse could impede His wonder-working power (John 11:25)!
Rush to Lazarus’ bedside and effect a cure, or wait until after he was dead and buried and then call him forth? Jesus chose the latter because He really did love (Greek — agapao) Mary and Martha and he wanted to see their faith grow to an even higher degree (John 11:23-27).
I don’t want the doctor to wait when I’m in the emergency room. I’m the emergency! I want the physician at my bedside, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, with prompt and accurate therapeutic care. I’m the same way when hurting emotionally or spiritually. “Lord, I need you NOW…!” “Come to Bethany!” “The one you love is very sick!” And sometimes…because he loves me…He waits.
Give it some thought.