Late to the Funeral
What if your house was the one Jesus loved to crash at when He was in town? What if He looked forward to your sister's cooking and always showed up hungry at dinnertime? What fringe benefits would you expect to receive if you had a special friendship with God? Maybe a backstage pass to the universe; an inside scoop on how things really work? An early alert on natural disasters? Immunity from flu season? Free cable? A special canteen that turns water to wine? Surely you would get eternal life and never get sick or die. In this passage, we actually do see one of Jesus' closest earthly friends get sick and die.
"Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was."
These two verses seem to be a contradiction in terms. Jesus loved them, so when they needed Him most He didn’t come to them? He had helped so many others but couldn’t take the time to help His friends? These are the questions those in pain are prone to ask: Where is God when it hurts? How many of us, if we're honest, have felt like God has treated us this way?
First, God is able to handle our honesty--our gut level reaction. He can handle how we're truly feeling. Second, our problem is that our definition of love is incompatible with suffering. But consider the greatest act of love of all time: the cross. It was full of suffering. Jesus' decision not to heal Lazarus will make way for an even greater miracle—raising a man from the dead. Doing so will give Jesus the opportunity to illustrate what He wants to do for our souls: give life and hope to all who will die. It looked like Jesus was late, but God is always on time. He had a plan all along. The disciples and the sisters couldn’t see it or understand how God could possibly use such horrible things for His good, but He had a plan. Mary and Martha wanted a healing, but Jesus had in mind a resurrection. Sometimes God chooses to deliver us from hardships, and sometimes he delivers us through them. Either way, He is glorified. Being God’s friend does indeed come with fringe benefits. Yes, you'll have a host of blessings while you're alive, but what a comfort to never be in terror of dying, because you have nothing to fear.
Remember: Sometimes God chooses to deliver us from hardships, and sometimes he delivers us through them.
(Excerpt from 21 Days in the Book of John by Levi Lusko and Fresh Life Church)