Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.– John 11:17-21
Time is an important theme throughout John’s Gospel. Everything has a certain order, a certain time in God’s plan, and John makes it clear that Jesus is completely in control of his time. All of which makes the timing of Jesus’ response to the request to help Lazarus seem strange. We are told in verse 6 that when Jesus heard that Lazarus, his friend, was sick he remained in Galilee two more days before he began his journey to Bethany. John tells us that when Jesus finally did arrive in Bethany, it was too late. Lazarus was dead and buried. In fact, John reports that Lazarus had been dead for four days by then. What’s more, John reports that both Martha and Mary lament that Jesus did not arrive in time to heal Lazarus. All of this makes it somewhat obvious that there is more going on here than a run-of-the-mill healing miracle.
What can we learn here? First, Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord even over terrible circumstances. Jesus is Lord even over grief. Jesus is Lord even when he does not respond as quickly as we would like. Jesus is Lord even over death.
The other lesson we can learn is that God’s timing is not our own. We view life in a narrow, linear fashion with one event preceding another. God’s timing is fuller and richer, above and beyond our understanding, less like a limited line segment and more like a geometric plane. Even when we are anxious and fretful over the shortness of time, God remains patient, calm, unhurried. God is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 103:17), and our faith in Christ Jesus empowers us to calibrate our lives to God’s eternal timing and thereby find peace and assurance. In Christ, we are no longer bound by a line segment; our lives are included in an eternal plane which knows no end. God’s timing, though often confusing to us, is actually complete…and perfect.
Eternal Father, Ancient of Days, help us trust you with every minute of every hour of every day. Amen.
A Bible study devotional blog by Gorman Houston