When He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. –John 11:6
People don’t like to talk about the subject of death today. In fact, since the beginning of the last century, with the rise in advancements in technology and science, there has been a concerted effort to deny the reality of death. We see that in many ways. For example, unlike previous generations, children are now excluded from the death process. They usually are not allowed at deathbed scenes with family members, and parents often do not want their children viewing the corpse of a loved one. Even family members many times don’t participate in the process of death. Instead of dying at home, most people die alone today, either in a rest home or connected to tubes and machines in a hospital.
Why are we so reticent to talk about death? I think it is because death represents the ultimate defeat. The open casket reminds us of the limitations of science and technology. The open grave reminds us of the futility of all life’s accomplishments.
Yet the Bible, unlike our culture, is willing to tackle the subject of death head-on. In John 11, we will see the universality of death, the despondency of death, and the ultimate victory over death.
John 11 records Jesus’s greatest miracle. “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick’” (vv. 1-3). Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. While Jesus was on earth, He had people He liked to hang out with, and among His closest friends were the siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. In fact, Jesus would choose to spend the last week of His earthly life with them. So because of that special relationship it was only natural that the sisters would contact Jesus when their brother, Lazarus, was sick.
But notice this: the fact that Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were loved by Jesus did not exempt them from problems. Being loved by God doesn’t mean you are exempt from problems either. When Lazarus was diagnosed as seriously ill, the sisters asked Jesus for help. But strangely, instead of coming immediately, Jesus chose to stay where He was. “When He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was” (v. 6).
Now that is a strange response. Why would Jesus not answer immediately a request for help from people He had a special love for? For that matter, why doesn’t Jesus immediately answer our requests for help when we face problems? It is because many times God has a plan that is different than our plan. And God has a timetable that is different from our timetable.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Tale from the Crypt” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.