Then, Love

John 11:6-7 (ESV)
“So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

These are another set of verses that might just slip through the daily reading without catching the nuance provided. But to get the full grasp of these study verses, we must look back at to verse 5, which states, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” So, in the context of the importance of showing how much Jesus loved this particular family, we see Him not in any hurry to go see them in their time of trial.

Different translations of these verses use various words, but they all convey the same thing: Jesus deliberately delayed His coming to see the sick Lazarus. He left Martha and Mary to deal with Lazarus on their own, as if the fate of Lazarus, whom He loved, was no longer important. For the new reader, this would certainly raise an eyebrow. What kind of “loving” Savior could be so callous?

But if we succumb to this thought, we are missing a valuable lesson.

The lesson is all about God’s love. It is of a love that will take us on various journeys, often filled with trials and heartaches, times where we might even feel forsaken. We need only look at Scripture to see such times where God’s love took individuals and a people through such times. Consider Joseph’s story in Genesis, and his journey through slavery and imprisonment; or the Israelites as they wandered in the Wilderness for 40 years. God’s love is shown in these examples as He delivered His faithful in both situations. Yes, there was chastisement, but “whom the Lord loves, He chastises” (Proverbs 3:12).

What we learn from these examples is that the Lord allows delays and disappointments and sorrow to visit us, not although He loves us, but because He loves us. The very things that make us think He has forgotten us are likely the very proofs of His love. Because He loves us, He weakens our strength in the way (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Because He loves us, He gives us opportunities in these trials to draw closer to Him on faith.

Going back to Judea meant returning to where Jesus was scorned openly and where there were many dangers around Him. But no risk to Himself could prevent Him from returning to those He loved; for the love of Jesus is the embodiment of a self-less, sacrificial love (1 Corinthians 13:5).

I am reminded when I think about this of my own walk. As I openly profess my love for Jesus Christ, has this love ever made me risk anything? Have I ever really stepped out of my comfort zone to demonstrate the faith I profess?

Yes, the Love came and those who witnessed the raising of Lazarus were to witness the very power of God, of a love delayed for His glory.