Sunday, November 4, 2018

God's Timing Is Right On Time

"When Mary came where Jesus was and saw Him, she knelt at His feet and said to Him,
"Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."
John 11:32-44 (NRSV)


The story of Lazarus is so much deeper than just a dear friend of Jesus' dying.  It's much more than two sisters desperately loving their brother and wanting to do anything to save him.  It's more than sending a messenger on a two-day walk to find Jesus, only to have Jesus say He was going to wait a while before heading to His dear friend Lazarus' bedside.  It's so much more, friends.  

It's important to understand the Hebrew view of death...which believed that during the first three days after the death of someone, their "soul" hovered over their body.  On the fourth day, they believed the soul would flee and you would be truly and totally dead-dead.  

The rabbis had been teaching the people they would know the Messiah had truly arrived because He would be able to do such amazing things, like bringing the dead back to life, and then they'd easily know He was the Messiah.  Now by the time we get to the story of Lazarus, Jesus had already raised two other people from the dead, Jairus' daughter and the only son of the widow of Nain.  But they were both within the first three days of death.  That didn't count according to the rabbis.  They'd claim that bringing a person back from the dead during the first three days didn't count because their soul would still be lingering around the body and, therefore, the supposedly dead person was just in a coma.  

The Jewish religious leaders used this three-day hovering of the soul teaching to discredit Jesus' prior two miracles.  For Jesus to truly be the Messiah, in the people's eyes, He’d need to raise the dead after the third day.  Awww...and then there was Lazarus...

So, Jesus delayed.  By the time He left for Lazarus' bedside, He wouldn't arrive until the fourth day after Lazarus had died.  If He had left at once, it would have only been the second day of Lazarus' death and still within the three-day-soul-hovering-time-limit.  And this is the significance of the fourth day.  Jesus' delay was intentional.  A fourth-day resurrection would tell the people that there was no question that Jesus was the Messiah. 

Lazarus learned this truth the hard way. He had to make the ultimate sacrifice to prove Jesus was, indeed, the Messiah to the people.

And friends, that is the REAL gold nugget in the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  God's timing ALWAYS has a purpose.  It's never too late or too early....it's always just right on time.