God’s timing is always right. This is true in your life, in my life and in the life of everyone who has ever lived. It is a divine appointment when Jesus chooses the family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus to display His sovereignty and power. Let’s see how John 11 unfolds…
The Death of Lazarus
First, the family knows where they should go when they are desperate. They send a messenger to Jesus. There is no question in their hearts and minds about what should happen when Lazarus takes ill. They are scared and they go to the One who has power over all things – Jesus. Yet, the story takes a little turn. When they request their Messiah and friend, He clearly delays before going to their need.
Let’s look at the timeline together…
- Messenger leaves Bethany and travels to Jesus. This journey takes him a day.
- Messenger tells Jesus about the illness of Lazarus.
- Jesus delays two days.
- Jesus then travels to Bethany – takes him a day to travel.
- When he gets there, Lazarus has been dead 4 days.
What does this delay say about Jesus? It raises questions in our heads. Mary and Martha may have thought: He does not care, He is not loving, or He is making a terrible decision. We must be careful to protect our minds from untruths like the statements just mentioned. They are certainly not true. Christ was doing something among the people that would show exactly who He is.
It is interesting to note the Jewish understanding of death. In this culture and time, it was thought that the soul lingered around the body for 3 days. At the time of bodily decay, the beginning of the 4th day, the person would be completely dead. It is not a coincidence that Jesus enters Bethany on 4th day. The day when everyone would know Lazarus was really dead!
Jesus delays in coming to Bethany because He wanted those around Him to gain understanding. He was bringing them to the end of themselves. He was taking them to the end of their rope. He was allowing them to get to the point of utter dependence so they would see and know they could trust Him. Trust begins when we realize God knows our situation and cares for us. Trust is an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something. Jesus is telling everyone, you can trust me with your life.
Unbind him and let him go
What is found in John 11 is the 7th miraculous sign of Jesus recorded in John. It was the grand finale. Jesus shows His sovereignty. He shows that His sovereignty even extends over death. He is shows the shackles of death are no match for His power. Listen to the words Jesus shares with those after Lazarus, the man who had been dead for 4 days, walks out of the tomb – “Unbind him and let him go.” – Verse 44
The crowd who is gathered, Mary, Martha and all the Jewish people see the mighty power of Jesus over death. God’s timing is PERFECT because His glory is going to be made known! The raising of Lazarus is no doubt a foreshadowing of the Resurrection of Christ. Remember Christ in Jerusalem just before this miracle. He was in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Dedication. The Jews sought to stone Him and He left. It is not long after He raises Lazarus when it is time to celebrate the Passover and His Triumphant Entry. This marking the beginning of His death, burial and resurrection. While Lazarus’s resurrection is a MIGHTY MIRACLE, it pales in comparison to the resurrection of Christ. Lazarus would die again. Christ shows His power and glory and ultimate defeat over death. Death has no hold on Him or those who believe in Him.
Christ as the firstfruits
1 Corinthians 15:20-22 – But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
Christ has taken the shackles of death and shattered them. He is unbound, and those who will trust in Him will also be unbound from the slavery of sin and death.
I Am the Resurrection and Life
What an incredible chapter in the book of John! Resurrection and life are shown as realities for those who are in Christ. We see the 4th “I AM” statement from Christ in John. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” This is exampled in the life of Lazarus, a dear friend of Christ. For all of us who are in Christ, it is also exampled in us!