So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”
What do we know about the man named Lazarus? He lived in the village of Bethany, two miles from Jerusalem. He had two sisters, Martha and Mary, and they were all friends of Jesus. He was ill and his sisters sent word to Jesus informing him of his friend’s condition. The sisters and perhaps Lazarus expectations were that Jesus would leave immediately to aid this friend whom Jesus loved.
Oddly enough Jesus did not seem distressed by the news. Upon receiving the message, Jesus said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Then Jesus remained where he was for two days longer rather than departing for Bethany immediately. By the time Jesus decides to go to Bethany He is aware that Lazarus has fallen asleep and Jesus intends to go and awaken him. Jesus’ companions think that Lazarus is merely sleeping, but Jesus knows that he has in fact died.
By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. Martha and Mary were still being consoled by the Jews. Both Martha and Mary reproach Him by saying, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” Jesus goes to the tomb and He weeps too. The Jews observed, “See how He loved him!” Then Jesus called for the stone to be rolled away. Then Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank You for having heard me. I know that You always hear Me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here so that they may believe that You sent me.”
Then Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Many Jews believed!
It is not until the end of the story that we understand why Jesus waited to heed the sisters’ message and to deliver His friend, whom He loved from death. Jesus loved His friends, but He loved giving glory to God and advancing His kingdom even more. By coming to Lazarus’ aid, Jesus was abetting the Pharisees and scribes case against Him more and hastening the time when Jesus would be arrested, tried, condemned, and executed. But Jesus came to minister to Lazarus, one whom Jesus loved who was ill.
O God, we often take risks to aid our friends who are in need. We thank You for friends upon whom we can rely. We thank You for those who go out of their way to help us. Help us always to be as good of friends to others as they have been to us. These things we ask in the name of our Elder Brother and Best Friend, Jesus. Amen.