“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)
Have you noticed that love doesn’t always look like you expected? As a child receiving punishment for bad behavior, I hated those words, “This hurts me more than it does you. I love you.” You love me? Then why are you spanking me and hurting me? Of course when I became the parent, I understood the pain of being the one to give the punishment. Parenting also gave understanding to withholding a greatly desired end result that was not the best for my children.
I have read the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus many times. Our key verses always cause me to take a big gulp of air. At first reading, it just doesn’t add up. It is a different math equation than 2 + 2 = 4. In our formula-loving minds, love plus love equals get up and go when your friend needs you. Love equals you stop what you are doing and go. You write a check and overnight it. You join Martha in the kitchen and whip up another delicious pot of soup. You cancel your plans, catch a flight, and rush to the rescue.
It seems that Jesus would have followed this same formula. Hop on his donkey, digging his heels into the side of the animal prodding him to run faster to get to his beloved friend. And if he wasn’t actually going, He could have quickly spoken the word of healing for his friend Lazarus as He had done for mere strangers.
But no, the scripture says that when He heard that his friend Lazarus was sick, He stayed. He waited two days longer. He stayed right where He was.
What about love?
Jesus lived within His Father’s equation called Kingdom Living. He waited to hear His Father’s voice and to move at His direction. He was forever astounding all who looked on His life, because He definitely marched to a different beat. He didn’t live by the expectations of others. He didn’t live by a formula, but by a voice: His Father’s voice.
“Jesus gave them this answer: 'Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.' ” John 5:19
Sometimes love lingers instead of pursuing. It is often quiet when it seems it should speak. It may bring pain instead of comfort. It waits, pauses for perfect timing. It doesn’t always get up and go. Real love waits for the voice of God. It waits for God to do His work and accomplish what only He can do.
Jesus lived with a different math professor directing His every move. God’s love disguised in a two-day delay appeared to be neglect. Jesus longed for his dear friends along with all the Jews gathered around to know a different way of life.
They knew Jesus as Healer, but He wanted them to know Him as The Resurrection. Healer was not enough for where they were about to go. He wanted them to believe that as He went to the cross, He too would be The Resurrection.
Sickness + Heavenly Delay = Death
Death + Power of God = Resurrection
Resurrection = Glory of God.
When Jesus arrived on the grief stricken scene, He told Martha:
“Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40)
“If we would believe! We too will see the glory of God.” We have to choose to believe and not look at the situation alone. God must be added into everything we see and hear, knowing that He is very active and present in every detail of our lives.
“Lord, teach us to embrace your ways. When You linger and delay, give us expectant hearts that you are on the way and the glory of God will be seen. Teach us your way of love that moves by the Father’s voice. May we be willing to love the way you love and may we never doubt your love while we wait for You.”