The events in John 11 are so powerful, and if we are willing, it can teach us a lesson. This story of Lazarus and Jesus is typically well known and well preached. There are even songs written about it!
For some reason though, when I read this passage, prayer comes to mind. Which seems like a stretch or maybe you can see the connection right off, but I hope to make it very clear by the end of this.
At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus receives news that Lazarus is sick. It is then observed that Jesus stayed two more day where He was. I think we all know that Jesus could have healed Lazarus, and that he loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha very well. So why did He tarry?
The answer is given in verses 4 and 11. Jesus declares that this sickness was unto the glory of God and that He would “awake him out of sleep.” Please remember that often in the Bible, “sleep” refers to death. Even the disciples had to be told by Jesus that Lazarus was dead and not resting.
Fast forward. Jesus shows up. Martha runs to meet Jesus and says that if He’d only been there, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. Jesus assures Martha that if she believes in Him, she will see her brother again. And in a rare turn of events, Martha was thinking the very future resurrection of the saints while Jesus was talking presently and literally.
Mary then runs to Jesus and basically says the same thing, “if you had been here, he wouldn’t have died!” (loosely paraphrased) She begins to weep and so does Jesus. He was greatly troubled at the sadness of those around Him. They take Him to the grave, He prays, and then He speaks, “Lazarus, come forth.” And Lazarus does is fact come out, even bound in his grave clothes.
Mary and Martha called upon Jesus knowing He could change the situation. Jesus answered, but He did so in His own time. The women were distraught because Jesus didn’t come right away, but in His delayed answer, Jesus was able to bring glory to God.
We, as Christians, pray and pray and pray. We often want God to answer RIGHT NOW!!! And we are usually so disappointed when He doesn’t immediately give us our desires. But what we don’t realize is that God knows all things, including every outcome of our prayers. We may see “no” or “not right now” but we have no idea what God is doing. He might be protecting us from something or growing us in a specific area for a purpose, or any number of things really. We just have to trust that God knows what He’s doing and acknowledge that His way is infinitely better than what we could dream up for ourselves.
So now, when I pray, I pray that overall, God’s will is done. Because you never know when God is going to do something miraculous, you just have to be willing to let it happen.