-By Debbie Christopher…Dictionary.com defines the word delay as follows:
To defer till a later time
Sometimes we are responsible for our own delays, sometimes another person is responsible, and, sometimes, well, things just ‘happen’. Regardless though, we, for the most part, do not like delays.
Delays in life bring inconveniences and frustration. Agree?
I once received THAT text from my airline that stated, “Your flight has been delayed for 2 ½ hours.” That feeling of “WHAT!” set in, and I headed to the nearest gate agent. I knew this delay would not allow me to make my connecting flight. The delay was quite the inconvenience. Actually, I can recall several flight delays that caused inconvenience, frustration, stress, and, even exhaustion.
We often struggle with the effects of delay when it creates bumpy circumstances, and we find ourselves frustrated.
Consider an account from Scripture when Jesus ‘seems’ to be responsible for a delay that ‘caused’ the loss of a loved one and brought head-scratching frustration to the family. Would we not find ourselves frustrated as well?
In this week’s passage, Martha, in her frustration, accused Jesus of being responsible for her brother, Lazarus’ death---because He delayed in acting upon her urgent message to ‘come quickly.’
As we consider the events found in John 11, we quickly see that Jesus intentionally planned to delay this ‘unexpected’ trip to Bethany. Jesus’ reasoning sheds tremendous light on this entire event. (https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/john/11/1-45)
In verse four, Jesus “assured His questioning disciples that this was to fulfill God’s plan.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)
Martha, in verse 21, reacted with the same confusion and frustration as the disciples had expressed earlier. Her reaction was very similar to what ours probably would have been in similar circumstances.
“If you would have...”
Jesus responded to her frustration by reminding her of His previous teachings and reassuring her of the hope He provides.
Martha was disappointed, broken-hearted, and we might even say frustrated, yet, after His calming reassurance and reminder, she responded, “I know” (verse 22) and “I believe” (verse 27).
Mary---and the hired mourners---also questioned Jesus’ delay with similar frustration and confusion.
In response to Mary’s and Martha’s lack of understanding and the crowds’ unbelief, Jesus wept (verse 35).
Jesus was deeply moved by the heartbreak caused by sin and death, the unbelief of the crowd, and His love and concern for Mary and Martha. Jesus understood their grief and heartbreak. He understood their confusion and frustration. And, He cared. He just wanted them to believe, and, as we are about to see, to respond to His plan with faith and obedience. The same holds true for us as we face the bumpy circumstances of life.
Now, here comes the ‘kicker.’ In verses 39-44, Martha demonstrated her belief and confidently obeyed Jesus’ next command. Consider the implications of what took place next in this encounter between two dear sisters and Jesus, Who loved them dearly. It was a “Wow!” moment, indeed.
Jesus commanded Martha to have the stone rolled away from Lazarus’ tomb. At first, Martha responded with the words we have all laughed at as kids (probably even as adults!), “But, Lord, by this time he stinketh…!” Jesus calmly reassured them one more time, and Mary and Martha obeyed by having the stone removed.
Right there in front of everyone they took a huge step of faith and obeyed. I have never considered the strong faith this act of obedience must have entailed!
After being reminded of their commitment to Jesus and reassured by His words, they responded to His delay regarding their request with faith and confidence. Oh, what a lesson for us!
The Bible Knowledge Commentary (page 313) states the following regarding this insightful event, “The delay was not from lack of love or from fear of the Jews. He waited until the right moment in His Father’s plan (emphasis mine).”
In simple summary, Jesus cares when circumstances bring confusion, frustration, and heartbreak. He knows we don’t always understand. He just wants us to believe and respond with faith, confidence, and obedience.
Let’s trust the right moment in God’s plan…