Prepare Our Hearts – Day 1

Every weekday from now until Easter we will be sending out and posting a short devotional helping us to help prepare our hearts for the celebration of the resurrection. This week we will spend our time in John 11 – The Death of Lazarus.

Monday, March 30th, 2020
Text: John 11:1-16
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

One thing that has always struck me about this passage is the way that the sisters send word to Jesus about Lazarus’ condition. Instead of using his proper name, which Jesus obviously knew, they simply say, “he whom you love is ill.” The phrase, “he whole you love” shows us the type of intimate relationship that Jesus and Lazarus shared. This word also shows us that Mary and Martha truly believed in Jesus’ power and ability to heal sickness and disease, and they knew, or thought they knew, that that all they had to do was just let Jesus know of the desperate condition of His beloved friend and then Jesus would come racing to the rescue. Yet, that isn’t how Jesus responds at all. Instead of racing to Bethany, Jesus simply tells those within earshot, including the messenger, that this illness will not lead to death, but for the glory of God. And for the Glory of Jesus! And then He remains where he was for another 2 days.

Why did Jesus not answer right away? It wasn’t because He didn’t love Lazarus. He clearly did. It wasn’t because He didn’t love Mary and Martha. It was because He had a better plan. Think about it. Jesus could have just said the word, right where he was, and Lazarus would have been instantly healed. He had performed miracles in that way before. He also could have immediately rushed in to save the day, and powerfully healed Lazarus with a grand heroic gesture. He had performed miracles in that way before as well. But instead, He waited…and waited…2 more whole days… until just the right time. Until His perfect time.

Now of course, the disciples don’t understand this at all. If Lazarus was going to be fine, they wonder, why even go to Bethany at all? Doesn’t Jesus know that his life will be in danger if he gets that close to Jerusalem? They had just tried to stone Him there, and Bethany was only a few miles away.

One disciple, Thomas, who will be forever known to us as “Doubting Thomas,” actually makes this outlandish declaration that is either overly sarcastic or overly courageous and says, “Lets go with him that we may die with him also.” Yet, despite Thomas’ strong words, as we will see in the coming days, when the hour for bravery finally arrived, not a single disciple is left standing with Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t always act in the way that we would expect, or even hope for Him to act. But we can and should take great comfort in knowing that God promises that His ways are always higher and always better than our ways. His time is and will forever be the perfect time. His plans for those who love Him are not just a little bit better, but infinitely better than even what we could ever have planned for ourselves. No situation that we could ever face is capable of surprising or stopping our God.

Prayer for Today:
Lord, help us to understand that You are at work in the midst of our circumstances even now, today. While our plans may have been interrupted Yours could never be. When our hearts are troubled, help us to find our hope and trust in You. Help us to believe that You are working all things together not just for our ultimate good, but most importantly, for Your ultimate glory. Grant us patience and joyful expectation as we wait upon You, that we may glorify You in all that we do. Amen.