Jesus was on a significant evangelistic itinerary when He got the news: Lazarus, a friend, was close to death. You can imagine that the message from Martha and Mary contained a bit of alarm and urgency: Jesus was needed right away. They had seen Him heal the sick. They knew that He was their answer. They waited. Jesus chose not to come immediately, instead staying where He was for two additional days. How confusing that must have been to those who were waiting!
On His way to Bethany, Jesus stopped and had dinner with a wealthy tax collector, Zacchaeus. Jesus seemed to meander His way toward the crisis situation, not with any noticeable sense of concern or expediency. Since Lazarus and his family were a primary support base for Jesus' ministry, His delayed response might have raised questions among His disciples. When He did arrive, Lazarus had died and been buried. The scene would have been filled with emotion.
"Jesus wept" was how John described the Savior's response to the entire set of circumstances. Obviously, Jesus was close to the family and empathetic with their pain. But I'd like to suggest one other option for this emotional response: I wonder if Jesus was deeply wounded over their accusations that He didn't care and that He should have been there earlier (John 11:21, 22, 32, 37). They easily could have concluded that He didn't care as much as they had thought He did. Rooted in reality instead of eternity, they all assumed that Lazarus' life on earth had concluded.
Had Jesus come when they requested, He could have healed Lazarus. But then again, they already knew that. Because Jesus waited, now they would discover something they never would have known had He answered their original prayer. Somehow, "not my will, but Thine be done" is an appropriate response to circumstances that exceed our understanding and stretch our emotions. When you don't understand His timing or His actions, simply trust Him. Perhaps His actions will exceed your expectations!
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9 (NKJV)
By: Glenn Burris Jr., general supervisor