Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Divine Delays
John 11:1-45

I am still preaching through the gospel of John and have been in this book for over one year now. This week I am in John 11, and I will probably be here for a few weeks. This chapter has really challenged me this week. I am looking forward to preaching this Sunday. I have not finished my message for Sunday, but I would like to bring out one of my points for this post. That point is Divine Delays.

In verse 6 of this chapter, we see Jesus waited two days, after hearing that his beloved friend Lazarus was sick, before going to see him. Now, Jesus was around 30 miles from Bethany at this time. It will take Him one full day to travel to Bethany. (Bethany sits about two miles from Jerusalem.) Mary and Martha, Lazarus sisters, sent word to Jesus to come and help Lazarus. However, Jesus waited two days. Why?

Why, when trouble comes, does it seem God sometimes waits before helping? Why do we see so many verses telling us to “wait upon the Lord”? (Psalms 25:3,5,21, ch 27:14, ch 37:7,9,34, Proverbs 20:22, Isaiah 40:31) I think we can see the primary purpose in John 11. Although what we see in John 11 is by no means exhaustive, it is a major reason for divine delays.

There is much I could say on this, but for the purpose of this blog, I will try and keep it short.

Why divine delays? In John 11:7-14, Jesus still has not left for Bethany. He informs the disciples it is time to go, and He tells them that Lazarus is dead. Then in verse 15 He says He is “glad” He did not go earlier. What? Is He saying He is glad Lazarus is dead? First reaction, one would think, Jesus was not much of a friend. The reason why he was glad lies within the verse itself and verse 4. In verse four, upon hearing that Lazarus is sick, Jesus makes it clear that this “sickness” has happened for the Glory of God! As a result, Jesus will be glorified! The glory of God is what life is about. It is what brings joy to the Lord. Anything that brings glory and thus joy to God, needs to catch our attention as God’s people.

Now, let’s go to Lazarus’s grave; a man who has been dead for four days. Mary and Martha have both already talked to Jesus. Upon meeting him, both said the exact same thing; “If thou hadst been here my brother had not died.” Oh, how true that statement is. Based on verse 14 and the comments of Mary and Martha, I believe had the Lord arrived in Bethany before Lazarus had died, he would have healed him. Now, I have other scripture to back that statement up, but not the time here to expound on it. One might think, “well that would have been a good thing.” It would have been a good thing, but not the best thing. Too many times we settle for good things, but not the best things in relation to our Christian life.

Put yourself there at the grave side of Lazarus. People are weeping, even Jesus is weeping. Some Jews are even wondering why Jesus did not come sooner to heal him (vs 37). Now in the midst of the weeping, Jesus tells the people to remove the stone from the grave. Again, put yourself there. Picture the emotions. Think of all the curiosity aroused as Jesus said, “Take ye away the stone.” Then, Jesus begins to pray to the Father. Everyone hushes as Jesus prays out loud for others to hear (41,42). He then yells with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” All eyes, no doubt, are fixed on the grave. It is utterly silent now. All of the sudden, the sound of movement, from within the grave, is heard. Gasps ripple throughout the crowd. Then, in complete amazement, the people see Lazarus walking out of the grave bound in grave clothes!! People are stunned by what they are witnessing. Their eyes slowly turn from Lazarus to Jesus Christ, with a heart that is in complete awe of his power and strength. God is Glorified!!!! This heart action of those who with awe dwell upon at the Power of Jesus Christ brings him glory. As a result many believe upon Jesus Christ; again, this action glorifying God. (vs45)

Now we see why Jesus was glad. He knew what was coming. He knew their sadness would be turned to joy! He knew they would see the glory of God. He knew the disciples would have their belief strengthened (vs14). He knew many would turn to Him for salvation as a result!

What if Jesus had not waited? What if He had went before Lazarus died and healed him? Yes, many would have rejoiced, but not with the passion that they now rejoice. Yes, God would have received some glory, but not nearly the amount of glory he did receive. Yes the disciples would have been strengthened, but not even close to the extent that their faith was strengthened as a result of what they witnessed.

Are you beginning to see the purpose of divine delays? God desires to be glorified by us. He enjoys (vs14) showing himself strong before us. There are times when God does delay from answering our petitions to him, but just wait, and you will see his power and strength! Just wait, and you will be able to stand in amazement at the power of God. If we are not willing to wait, then we limit to what extent we see the glory of God. (vs 40) It all comes down to faith. Faith is the vehicle which enables us to wait on God. (Heb 11:6, John 11:25,26,40.) Do you trust in God: Then wait. He is in control. When we don’t understand the actions of God, just trust him.

Jesus truly is the Resurrection and the Life!

Psalm 27:14b “…..wait I say on the Lord.”


Bill H. said...

I just wanted to add a little bit here...from that point on, every where Lazarus went, people would know that Jesus Christ did a tremendous miracle. They would choose to believe in Him and His power or reject Him. Great Post! and Thanks.

Terry McGovern said...

Very true Bro,

We see in John 12 the very thing you talked about take place. So much so, the Jews desired to kill Lazarus.

I appreciate your comments.

Terry McGovern said...

This comment is from Jerry Bouey. (Again, my site was having trouble posting comments so I am posting his comment for him.

From Jerry:
Don't know if you would be interested in this - it was the basic message I preached at my Mom's memorial last year. It used John 11 as a springboard to offer comfort and hope (through salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ) to those that were there.


God bless.

Terry McGovern said...


I read the message from John 11 on your website. Very encouraging.

I am sure you rejoice in knowing your mom is with the Lord!

Thanks for giving the link