Summary: This sermon examines Jesus’ delay in coming to the aid of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. In it we see Martha’s struggle with disappointment culminating in a powerful expression of faith. A video clip from "The Greatest Story Ever Told" is used to help communic

God, Why Don’t You Do Something?

Fortifying the Foundations # 25

John 11:1-37[1]


There were obviously a lot of people who wondered why Jesus hadn’t done something to help his friend, Lazarus. Verse 37 “But some of them said, ‘could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’”

Have you ever had a problem and wondered why God didn’t intervene?

Has there ever come the cry from your soul, “God, why don’t you do something?”

The questions that were going on in these people’s minds were honest questions.

They were about to get an answer to their question. We know the end of the story.

We know that Jesus is about to resurrect Lazarus and all their mourning is about to be turned to joy.

But go back with me to the beginning of this story.[2] The younger brother of Martha and Mary has become ill. At first it didn’t seem too serious. They had him lie down and get some rest. Martha made him some warm chicken soup. Mary read some scriptures to build his faith. The three of them agreed in prayer and asked God to touch Brother Lazarus[3].

But as the night wore on the sickness became worse—and then even worse.

Mary and Martha decided to send news to Jesus concerning Lazarus’ condition.

They knew how tenderly Jesus loved young Lazarus. They knew Jesus would want to know. And they knew Jesus could do something about the problem, which by now had them very, very worried.

It was a day’s journey from their home to where Jesus was ministering.

When the messenger told Jesus about Lazarus’ condition, Jesus sent a reassuring word back. John 11:4 “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

I think maybe the disciples took that to mean Lazarus is recovering as we speak.

But that was not at all what was happening back at Bethany.

In fact, by the time that messenger got to Jesus, Lazarus was probably already dead. It took the messenger a day to get to Jesus. Jesus waits two days to go to Bethany. And it takes Jesus a day to get there[4]. When he gets there they tell him Lazarus has been dead four days.[5]

So Jesus gives this word of assurance to the messenger. A day later the messenger gets back to Bethany and tells Martha and Mary Jesus’ words. But to his surprise Lazarus is dead. Now I think at that point somebody had to wander about Jesus’ message.

Could it be that Jesus missed this one? Could it be that Jesus thought everything was going to be all right—but obviously it’s not?

Have you ever prayed and prayed about something and the word God seemed to drop in your heart was something like this, “It’s going to be OK. Just trust me and I’ll take care of it”? How do you respond to a general word of assurance like that? There have been times when I just assumed that meant that God was going to solve the problem the way I had expected Him to solve it—so the word made me feel pretty good. Then, on the other hand, there have been times that I was not too happy with a word like that. “Well what does that mean? I know someday in heaven it’s going to be fine, but right now this doesn’t feel like heaven; and God, I want more than a general word of encouragement. I need some help and I need it now!” Of course, the right response is neither of those.

The right response is to realize that God is watching over me, He loves me, and He will take care of it in the best possible way. The right response is to trust Him—not some specific solution—certainly not my proposed solution—but knowing Who He is and just trusting Him. Has anybody but me found that to be easier said than done?

I don’t know exactly how Martha and Mary responded to the message they got from Jesus. But we do know that they were suffering deep sorrow over the loss of their kid brother.

In verse 5 and 6 John makes an interesting connection. He tells us how Jesus loved this family. We would then expect that love to be demonstrated by Jesus immediately heading to their house. But instead we are told that Jesus stayed where he was for two more days. Why in the world wouldn’t Jesus drop whatever he was doing and go pray for his friend? That would have certainly been the natural thing to do. But Jesus didn’t just follow his emotions. He followed the leading of the Holy Spirit. He saw God’s will (which in this case was not popular at all) and he did what the Father told him to do.[6]

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