Jesus finally shows | John 11:17-19
Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. John 11:17-19 | ESV
When Jesus did finally show, he found Lazarus was long gone – four days already in the tomb. Now for those of you who may not know, the village of Bethany was right in Jerusalem’s front yard, just over the hill somewhere close to fifteen laps from the city (okay, about two miles) – so there was a sizeable Jerusalem crowd still hanging around Martha and Mary after the funeral to console them after the loss of their brother. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
“A wizard is never late, Frodo. He always shows up precisely when he means to.”
I’ve always loved that line from Fellowship of the Ring. The fact that I am with a great deal of punctuality late might have something to do with it. I recall another quote from Ben Franklin, or at least the basic outlines of it – he was known to be late quite frequently too – to the effect that “whether I am late or on time depends on the quality of the conversation in which I am currently engaged.”
Jesus was at least four days late, at least for two grieving sisters.
Scripture says, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” It might as well have been four thousand years as far as Mary and Martha were concerned.
God is consistently late – at least according to our time zone.
God promises Abraham that he will have a son – but waits nearly a quarter of a century until Abraham’s body is “as good as dead” and Sarah’s womb has flatlined. And though Genesis has God telegraphing to Abraham a pretty precise chronology for his descendants – “Your offspring will be in bondage in a land that is not theirs and after four hundred years I will visit them” – that telegraph was buried in the mud of their oppression, the echoes of that promise dying out along with their extinguished hope until God finally shows up in a burning bush to an exiled shepherd.
When the people return from exile right on time, centuries later, the promises of kingdom and life and a holy mountain in which “they will not hurt or destroy” seem to have arrived on their doorstep at last.
When after nearly three centuries of waiting under oppressive foreign rule Israel throws off that yoke and finally experiences freedom she cranes her neck and looks for Messiah to show.
But it is Rome that comes, and back they go under yet another foreign oppressor.
And a century and a half later, two sisters hold out hope until the last breath of their dying brother.
“He will come. He will show. ‘This sickness will not lead to death but to a display of divine wonder,’ he said. He doesn’t lie. He will show. He will come.”
But Lazarus dies and is buried, and they are buried in tears. Friends surround them for consolation. It’s been four days and “God Help Him” lies cold, dead, decaying and unhelped.
And now He shows.
Oh to have a watch set by His time…
When have you been most challenged waiting for God to show and finding him very late? What happened?
What did you learn through this experience?
Lord, lead me in the hard and gentle grace of learning to wait on your time when all my clocks are set to other expectations in other time zones. In my impatience, lead me into greater trust. Through Christ.