John 11:1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it, he 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.” 5 Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6 after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
I’m imagining myself as the messenger telling Jesus that his dear friend Lazarus is very sick. I’d want Jesus to get right up and follow me back to Bethany. Stat! When someone is as ill as Lazarus was, time is of the essence. Then there’s verse 6, “after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was”.
What?! Dude! What are you doing?! Let’s go! Two days must have seemed like an eternity. And to then learn Lazarus was dead… devastating. In the messenger’s mind Jesus was supposed to prevent Lazarus from dying in the first place, not raise Lazarus from the dead.
I have found myself praying for God to save someone from death many, many times. My desired response from God is for God to bring healing to the person near death so they might extend their life. Sometimes that’s what happens, but sometimes not. Sometimes, like Lazarus, what happens to the person I’m praying for is death, to be followed one day by resurrection from the dead.
In just a few hours I will preside at the funeral for one of the saints, Karyl. And I do mean “saint”. Karyl was a remarkable woman, a person of deep faith who cared for others right up until the end. And boy did she love Jesus! And so today I will gather with Karyl’s family to grieve her loss, but also to take comfort in the promise of the resurrection. Lord let it be so. Amen.