Lord, I Thought You Loved Me
Jesus stayed where He was? I’m lost. The last thing the sisters could have possibly wanted was the one thing that Jesus did. He received the message. He clearly heard it. He fully understood the possible outcome. But instead of jumping up and rushing out the door Jesus sat down and waited. Am I the only one who finds themselves completely confused by His response? Put it in perspective. Your child’s school calls to tell you that your 5-year-old was seriously injured in a playground accident. The police department shows up at your home to inform you that your spouse has been in an auto accident. Your elderly mother calls in the middle of the night to tell you that your father doesn’t have much longer. In what world do you just sit down and wait two days before responding??? Like I said, I don’t get it.
Makes me wonder if Martha and Mary weren’t struggling with the same question themselves. Look at the text. John makes it a point to establish the special relationship between Jesus and this family. This family was loved by Jesus. Yes, there is that reality in which we are all loved by Christ but nowhere else in the NT writings do you find His love for someone expressed in such extravagant terms. Martha and Mary had to have known that they were loved. At the very least, they felt confident regarding Jesus’ love for their brother. They actually refer to Lazarus as “he whom You love.” There was no question in their minds. Jesus loved Lazarus. Jesus loved the two of them. But in this specific instance His actions seemed to be saying just the opposite.
Be honest. What would you have been thinking if you had been in Martha and Mary’s sandals? Sure, we all love to talk big. We love to project the image that we are full of faith and trust. But what happens when we are alone? What happens when God’s actions seem to be anything but expressions of love? Consider the situation. Jesus hears the news of His sick friend. But to everyone involved He must have seemed indifferent at best. Calloused and cruel at worst. For all intents and purposes Jesus had just received a 911 call from His friends. But rather than racing off to their rescue He just leaves the “ambulance” parked in the garage. One would think that He could have at least sent forth His word to heal Lazarus (cf. Matthew 8:8). To everyone gathered there it looked like He just didn’t care.
The walk of faith is seldom easy in this life. And we all need to be prepared for those times and seasons when we encounter trouble, trial, and tragedy. They are a part of this life and they should be expected. 1 Peter tells us, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;…” The temptation during such times is to fault God for failing to act according to our expectations and desires. Anything less than what we want, the way we want it, and when we want it is somehow misconstrued to mean God doesn’t really love us. “God, if you really loved me You would have done what I wanted by now.” God does not move according to our desire. He does not react according to our whims. All things work according to His counsel. Jesus did not delay out of indifference. Jesus did not wait because He was apathetic. Rather, He moved according to God’s greater purpose. In this specific instance what the sisters wanted in the immediate was secondary to God’s larger plan. In the end they would clearly see that Jesus loved them. But in the time of their need His obedience to the father’s will would test their trust to its very limit.
Jesus loved them. Beyond a doubt. Without question. Personally, I think it’s the main reason for verse 5. God wanted to settle the issue and answer any questions from the very beginning. He loves us. Regardless of what we might think or be tempted to believe. He loves us. Always. At all times and in every situation His plans and purposes will prevail. Don’t mistake His timing for indifference. Don’t allow your impatience to poison your trust. Have faith in His purposes even if it isn’t happening according to your schedule. That was one of the lessons the sisters learned that week. If they ever questioned Jesus’ love, the resurrection of their brother forever settled the issue. In every situation God’s love for us remains constant. And in the end His love will prevail.