Summary: God would have us learn a lesson, which reaches far beyond the instance at hand, & casts light on many dark places. God’s delays are delays of love.
JOHN 11: 1-10
HE WHOM YOU LOVE
We learn from verse 17 of this chapter that Lazarus had been dead four days when Christ reached Bethany. The distance from Bethany to the place Christ probably resided when He received the message was about a day’s journey. If we added to the two days on which He remained after the receipt of the news and the day which the messengers took to reach Him and the day He used in traveling, we get the four days since Lazarus had been laid in his grave. Consequently the probability is that, when our Lord received the message, the man was already dead.
Christ remained still therefore not in order to work a greater miracle by raising Lazarus from the dead but He stayed — strange as it would appear — because He loved them and desired the eternal best for these three He loved so. This delay because of love is significant and full of illumination in regard to the ways of God’s providence.
How these two sisters must have looked down the rocky road that led up from Jericho during those four weary days, to see if there were any signs of His coming. How strange it must have appeared to the disciples that Jesus made no movement, in spite of the urgent message. John thus carefully points out that Christ’s love was His reason for remaining. It may reflect a remembrance of the doubts that had crept over him and his brethren’s minds during those two long days of strange inaction.
God would have us learn a lesson, which reaches far beyond the instance at hand, and casts light on many dark places. God’s delays are delays of love (CIM).
I. THE GREAT NEED OF THE BELOVED, 1-4.
II. THE DELAYS OF LOVE, 5-6.
III. WALKING IN THE LIGHT, 7-10.
The signal that it was time for Jesus to leave His evangelistic crusade in the trans-Jordan region was not long in coming. It took the form of a message from dear friends living in Bethany. The event begins in verse 1 with the sickness of Lazarus. Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Bethany is about two miles from Jerusalem and even nearer to the Mt. of Olives.
The identification and devotion of Mary is given in verse 2. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
From the other Gospels it is implied that Jesus was a frequent guest in their home (Lk. 10:38-42; Mt. 26:6-12; Mk 14:3-9).
Knowing Jesus’ love for them and His power to heal the sisters sent for Him in verse 3. Which reads, So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick."
The malady was serious for in alarmed they had sent for Jesus to return to the area where He had a price on His head. The sufficient identification for Lazarus was he whom You love. They must have been very close indeed. In their serious need they look to Him whom they knew could help.
When a godly Christian became SERIOUSLY ILL, several friends gathered around his bedside to ask God to restore him. The last one to pray spoke of the faithful service of this man, and concluded his petition by saying, "Lord, You know how he loves You." After a moment of silence, the sick believer said to him, "I know you meant well, but please don’t plead for my recovery on that basis. When Lazarus was ill, Mary and Martha sent for Jesus, but their request was not based on his affection for Christ. They said, ’Lord, he whom You love is sick.’ It’s not my weak and faltering allegiance to Him that calls forth His attention but His perfect love for me that is my constant strength and hope."
The same thought was forcefully impressed on hymn writer Philip Bliss one day after he finished singing, "Oh, How I Love Jesus." He said,"These words are true. Yet I feel guilty for having sung so much about my poor love for Christ and so little about His endless love for me." As a result, he wrote a song that is well-known today. It reads, "I am so glad that our Father in heaven/ Tells of His love in the Book He has given;/ Wonderful things in the Bible I see-/ This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me."
Yes, our greatest comfort in life or in death is not that we love Him, but that "He loved us" (1 John 4:10). God loves His children not because of who they are, but because of who He is. ["Our Daily Bread"]