Do you long to see the glory of God? Do you long for God to do something big in your life? Is there a prayer that you have been praying for some time and God seems quiet? Imagine how Martha and Mary felt as their brother Lazarus was sick and they watched as he grew worse. They sent for Jesus, but he didn’t arrive in time, and Lazarus died. They had probably seen Jesus heal many others and knew he had the power to heal their brother. But the truth is they longed to see the God’s glory revealed in their brother’s life, but Jesus didn’t come.

They knew Jesus loved their family very much. Can you imagine their confusion as Lazarus gets close to death and Jesus still hasn’t arrived yet? Can you imagine their heartache as their brother takes his last breath and Jesus didn’t come? Yet, they had enough faith to believe that, even at this point, Jesus could make a difference. As we look at the story of Mary, Martha, and Jesus when Jesus arrives after Lazarus’ death, there are three things we can learn that will help us in the moments that we long to see God’s glory show up in our own lives.

The Backstory

For a little backstory, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were friends of Jesus. In fact, the Bible records that it was this Mary that anointed Jesus with oil and wiped His feet with her hair. When Lazarus became sick, his sisters did the only thing they knew to do – they sent for Jesus. They had complete faith that Jesus could heal him.

However, we don’t find Jesus dropping everything and heading on over to Bethany as quickly as he can. He already knew what He was going to do, how He was going to do it and why. Unfortunately, in order to fulfill His will, it meant that Lazarus must die first (or maybe that’s not unfortunate for Lazarus because He got to spend a few days on vacation in Heaven!). So, Jesus hangs out where He was for another two days. Then He says to His disciples, “Let’s go to Judea.” Why? Because God’s glory was going to be revealed in a much bigger way than simply healing Lazarus.

Unfortunately, in order to fulfill His will, it meant that Lazarus must die first (or maybe that’s not unfortunate for Lazarus because He got to spend a few days on vacation in Heaven!).

God’s Delay Is Not a Delay in seeing the God’s glory

Lazarus, Mary and Martha needed their Jehovah Rapha – the God who heals. But Jesus chose not to go and these were His friends. Jesus was not being intentionally hurtful by not going right away. If we do the math, we know that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days by the time Jesus does arrive. That means that Lazarus was probably already dead when they brought the news to him that he was sick. He probably died not longer after the messengers left Bethany.

But the fact that Lazarus had been dead four days when Jesus arrived is significant and we shouldn’t miss the point of that. The Jews had a belief that a person’s spirit left their body after three days, unable at that point to reunite with the body. Perhaps this is the same reason that Jesus rose from the dead three days after the cross. It reminds me of the movie, The Princess Bride, where Wesley is “dead” but the little old, odd couple says he’s not dead, just “mostly dead” which, of course, is different than “completely dead.”

Because Lazarus was 100% dead, there would be no doubt in God’s glory

By waiting a couple days before going, there would be no doubt that Lazarus was not just “mostly dead,” he was completely dead. Dead as a door nail. He was so dead that when Jesus tells them to open the tomb, Martha says, “But, by now, he stinks.” (If Jarjar Binks were on the scene we might hear him say, “How rude!”) But I think God inspired John to include that particular interchange between Jesus and Martha so that everyone throughout time who reads the story of Lazarus will know that Lazarus was 100% completely dead. So dead that his body had started decomposing and stinking. Lazarus D.E.A.D.

Lazarus was not just mostly dead, he was completely dead. He was so dead that when Jesus tells them to open the tomb, Martha says, “By now, he stinks.” (If Jarjar Binks had been there we might hear him say, “How rude!”)

“If you had been here” – we would have seen God’s glory

If any of us were in Mary and Martha’s shoes as they laid the body of their brother in a tomb and sealed it shut, we’d probably feel not just the sadness and grief associated with death, but also confusion and hurt that Jesus hadn’t come. Can you hear the frustration and hurt in their voice as both sisters say the same thing to Jesus when He does finally arrive? They said, “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.” They knew He had the power to heal and they just didn’t understand why He didn’t show up when they needed Him.

If this were us in this story, we might have questioned just how much Jesus really cared about us and our situation. Jesus knew that in not going to them and healing Lazarus, there would be grief and confusion, but Jesus had a greater plan and in that plan they would all see God’s glory perfectly revealed to them. So, the first that we can learn, is to trust God’s timing.

Jesus knew that in not going to them and healing Lazarus, there would be grief and confusion, but Jesus had a greater plan and in that plan they would all see the glory of God.

Trust God’s Timing

I have to admit that waiting is NOT my thing. If you want to see my grumpy side, just let me wait – for anything. I have a couple of games on my phone so that when I find myself waiting, I can pull my phone out and occupy my time. Yet, waiting on God often needs more than a few rounds of a match-three game. At times, we wait years to see God’s glory through answered prayer. You might have been praying so long that you don’t even know how to pray anymore. The good news is the Bible tells us that when we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit will step in and pray for us (Romans 8:26-27). So if you have reached the place of not knowing what or how to pray, ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for you and pray on your behalf.

Sometimes, we wait so long that we might even give up praying for that thing on our heart. But unless God gives us an answer of “no,” we need to keep praying, keep seeking His will, keep looking for where He is at work in our lives and know that in His perfect timing, He will show up and whenever He shows up, we will see His glory.

Unless God gives us an answer of “no,” we need to keep praying, keep seeking His will, keep looking for where He is at work in our lives and know that in His perfect timing, He will show up and whenever He shows up, we will see His glory.

Trust God’s Heart

Not only can we trust His timing, but we can trust that His timing is the absolute best because He loves us and He only wants the very best for us – even when we don’t know what’s best. Mary and Martha thought that what was best for Lazarus was for Jesus to come and heal him. Had Jesus only healed him, all of them would have missed out on the greater miracle that Jesus was going to do. Had Jesus only healed him, Lazarus would not have had the opportunity to spend four days in Heaven. Imagine the stories he could have told about what heaven was like! The point here is that God always gets the timing right and we can trust His heart to do what is absolutely best for us in ever situation – even when it doesn’t make any sense.

Had Jesus only healed him, all of them would have missed out on the miracle that Jesus was going to do. Had Jesus only healed him, Lazarus would not have had the opportunity to spend four days in Heaven.

Jesus wept

We can see Jesus’ heart in verse 35 as His human emotions are expressed. This short verse simply says, “Jesus wept.” But what caused our Savior to cry? He already knew that He was going to bring Lazarus back to life, so he wasn’t crying because his friend had died. What cause Him to be “deeply moved” (verse 38)?

I can think of two reasons why Jesus’ emotions were moved to the point of tears. One reason may have been because as He saw the people standing around, He saw those who did not believe and would spend eternity in hell because of their hard hearts. But He also saw the emotional hurt and pain of Mary and Martha and He loved them. He cared about how they were feeling. He knew how heavy their hearts were in their loss, grief, and sadness, and because he cared about them, his heart was heavy, too. But, there is no better way for God’s glory to be revealed than when he steps into our brokenness and makes beauty out of ashes.

When we hurt, God hurts

My friend, when you are hurting, Jesus is hurting with you. When the people who should be there supporting you, cheering you on, and encouraging you instead would rather see you fail, Jesus hurts with you. Or when someone close to you dies, Jesus hurts with you. When your children turn away from the faith you’ve raised them in, Jesus hurts with you. And when you long to hold a child in your arms, but infertility is your reality, Jesus hurts with you. When your spouse ignores you, leaves you, or cheats on you, Jesus hurts with you. And when a friend betrays you, Jesus hurts with you. Jesus hurts for each and every hurt that weighs us down. When you grieve, God grieves. When you cry, God cries. We have a God with a big heart. You can trust God’s timing, and you can trust God’s heart. 

When you grieve, God grieves. When you cry, God cries. We have a God with a big heart. You can trust God’s timing, and you can trust God’s heart. 

Trust God’s Power

Now remember that Lazaurs wasn’t just “mostly dead.” He was four-day, stinkin’ dead. They didn’t practice embalming, so decay had already set in. Prior to raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus had performed two other resurrections, but they had only been dead a short time. It would take a BIG miracle where Lazarus was concerned and Martha had to point out just how dead Lazarus was. But in verse 4O, Jesus speaks words that could turn the deepest, darkest grief and despair into bright, shining hope. After Martha points out that Lazarus’s decaying body would stink by now, Jesus replies to Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” Then with a loud voice, Jesus says three words: “Lazarus, come forth!”

When God acts, He calls us by name

Have you ever thought about that fact that Jesus called Lazarus by name in raising him to life. The power of God is such that had Jesus just said, “come forth,” every dead body within the sound of His voice would have risen from the dead. Jesus had to call Lazarus by name so that only he came back to life. This moment, this act of God that would reveal His glory, was for Lazarus alone to experience.

Those who witnessed God’s glory in action saw it happen, but only Lazarus experienced coming back to life. In that moment, the cells in his body that had already started to break down and decay instantly reversed – in just a split second the 100% completely dead Lazarus breathed and he came hopping out of the tomb still wrapped up like a mummy, and the 100% completely dead Lazarus was now 100% completely alive! That’s the power of our God. And whenever and whatever God speaks to the need you have, He will call you by name so that His glory is revealed in your situation.

The power of God is such that had Jesus just said, “come forth,” every dead body within the sound of His voice would have risen from the dead. Jesus had to call Lazarus by name so that only he came back to life.

In just a split second the 100% completely dead Lazarus breathed & he came hopping out of the tomb still wrapped up like a mummy. The 100% completely dead Lazarus was now 100% completely alive! That’s the power of our God.

Waiting to see God’s glory

If you are longing and waiting to see the glory of God in your life, I hope that you will remember to trust God’s timing, to trust His heart, and to trust His power. If God can fix 100% completely dead, he can fix whatever is going on in your life. The same God that brought Lazarus back to life has the power to do the impossible in your life. The same God that wept when His friends were hurting, weeps with you because He loves you and you are so very precious to Him. And because He loves you, He will reign down His glory on you at only the most perfect moment and in the best of ways, so trust His timing. Rest in His love. Believe in His power and wait to see God’s glory.


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