When Love Doesn’t Show Up On Time

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty-four verses of the eleventh chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the apostle John shifting eats to something of a more personal note and nature within the gospel. What you find when reading the words found within the eleventh chapter is a powerful description—not only of one whom Jesus loves being sick, but also the brother of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears being sick. As the eleventh chapter of this gospel opens it does so with the apostle shifting gears to writing about one from Bethany whom Jesus lived, and how that one whom Jesus lives had grown and become sick. It’s actually quite interesting and unique to read the words found within this chapter, for the words we find within it are words of affection and tenderness in behalf of Jesus the Christ who loved this man who had grown sick. As we read the words which are found within this passage of scripture we must acknowledge the love and the affection Jesus had for and toward this man, and how even though Jesus loved this man, His love for this man could not and would not keep him from becoming sick. I find it absolutely incredible and intriguing to think about and consider the fact that even though Jesus did in fact love this particular man, that love would not keep this man from growing and becoming sick. At the risk of getting ahead of myself you will find Martha—one of the sisters of Lazarus—declaring unto Jesus that if He had only been there her brother would not have died. This ultimately and inevitably reveals and points to the fact that Jesus apparently didn’t show up on time, and when He did show up it was to the natural mind too late, for Lazarus had died. What we must recognize when reading the words which are found in this passage is that even though Jesus did in fact love this man, that love would not and did not prevent this man from growing and becoming sick. What’s more, is that as we will read the words which the apostle Hohn wrote within this passage, Lazarus would ultimately and inevitably die, and the love Jesus had for and toward Him would not keep and prevent him from even dying. This completely goes against absolutely everything we think and everything we believe about Jesus the Christ, for we tend to think that simply because He loves us, that’s love keeps us from going through and experiencing any type of suffering, and even death itself. We will choose your speak solely along the lines of sickness and suffering early on in this passage, for I do not want to get ahead of myself. If you read the words which are found within this passage, you will come face to face with the reality that even though Jesus did in fact love this man, that love did not keep him from suffering, from being sick, and even from dying.

One of the realities which I find to be so incredibly intriguing when reading the words which are found within this passage is that the apostle John not only reveals how Jesus loved this man from Bethany, but how despite the love Jesus has for this man—that love did not and would not prevent him from getting and growing sick. Pause for a moment and think about and consider that reality—the reality that even though Jesus loved this man—a love which would come out even more at the grave site—Jesus would not keep him from becoming sick. This completely and totally goes against the grain of everything we have been taught and everything we have believed, for we have been taught that because Jesus loves us and because Jesus has tender affection and mercy toward us, that automatically means that He can and will prevent any suffering and sickness within our lives. We tend to think that just because Jesus loves us that that love can and will automatically prevent us from experiencing any type of suffering and sickness within our lives. Conversely we have been taught and led to believe that if we do in fact experience any type of suffering within our lives that automatically means that Jesus somehow doesn’t love us or have affection toward us. We have been taught to think and believe that just because we suffer and just because we go through something within our lives, that means that’s Jesus doesn’t love us, and has somehow even abandoned and forsaken us. There had been this pervasive thinking within the body of Christ that the love of God and the love of the Son can and will somehow prevent us from facing And experiencing any type of suffering within our lives, and the truth of the matter is that that simply isn’t the case. The truth of the matter is that the love of God and the love of Jesus was never a guarantee that we can and will live a life free of any type of suffering and pain. There have been countless men and women who have spent their entire lives thinking and believing that simply because they face and experience suffering and sickness within their lives that the love of God and the love of Jesus somehow don’t apply to them, and they are somehow living absent and apart from that love. I am throughly convinces that there is absolutely nothing that could be further from the truth and that just because we find ourselves facing and experiencing sickness and suffering within our lives, that doesn’t mean that it is because the Father somehow doesn’t love us. There have been a lot of men and women and preachers within the church Ho have taught and preached the reality that if we experience any type of suffering and sickness we are somehow out of the will of God and that God doesn’t love us.

I sit here this morning and I can’t help but come face to face with the incredible reality that even though Jesus did in fact love this man from Bethany, that love didn’t automatically mean that this man would be kept and prevented from becoming sick. Just because Jesus loves this man, that doesn’t automatically mean that this man would automatically be kept and prevented from becoming and growing sick. It is an absolutely negligent and erroneous teaching to think about and consider the fact that just be such Jesus does in fact love us that we cannot and will not experience suffering and sickness. There have been countless preachers and ministers who have stood behind the pulpits of our churches and who have declared that if we experience any type of sickness and suffering within our lives that Jesus somehow and someway doesn’t love us and isn’t kind and affectionate toward us. There is this growing teaching and misconception within the body of Christ that simply because we experience suffering and death, that we are somehow out of the will of God and that the living God no longer loves us and isn’t concerned about her us. As we read the words which are found within this passage of scripture we come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that even though Jesus loved Lazarus who was from Bethany, that didn’t mean that his live would keep and prevented him from being sick. This passage could be perceived as perhaps one of the most controversial passages within the entire gospel of John for its within this passage where we encounter and come face to face with the reality that even though Jesus did in fact love Lazarus, that love didn’t prevent Lazarus from growing and becoming sick. We would think that the love of Jesus souls and could somehow keep and prevent this man from growing and becoming sick, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. It was true that Jesus did In fact love this man, however, that love didn’t keep and didn’t prevent this man from growing and becoming sick. Jesus could have very easily not only kept this man from growing and becoming sick, and He could have even kept this man from dying, however, neither the love of Jesus nor the love of the Father kept this man from becoming sick, and even from eventually dying. As you read the words which open up this particular chapter you will come face to face with the fact that there was a certain man named Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her Martha. This is actually quite unique in and of itself, for you will recall how Mary and Martha invited Jesus into their home, and how Martha spent a considerable amount of time tending to the needs around the house and perhaps even preparing a meal for them to partake of while Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus. This Lazarus was the brother of the same Mary and Martha who had invited Jesus into their home, and who had prepared a meal for Jesus to partake of. Please don’t miss the tremendous amount of significance that is found in the reality of Mary and Martha inviting Jesus into their home, for I would dare state that it would be after their invitation of Jesus into their home that Lazarus their brother would grow sick. What’s more, is that it wouldn’t even be until the fourth gospel written within the New Testament that we would even learn that Mary and Martha even had a brother named Lazarus. It wouldn’t be until we come to the New Testament gospel of John that we come face to face with this same Mary and Martha having a brother named Lazarus, and how their brother had grown and become sick.

I have to admit that the more I sit here this morning and consider the words which are found written within this passage of Scripture, the more I come face to face with the fact that even though Jesus did in fact love this man named Lazarus—perhaps even loved him deeply and with great affection—that love did not and would not keep this man from becoming sick. If you think about it—Jesus could have very easily kept and prevented this man from growing and becoming sick. I would dare suggest that there are certain men and women who would read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and who would think within themselves that the love of Jesus could very well have kept this man from becoming sick, and that because this man had grown and become sick that somehow meant that Jesus didn’t love him, or loved him less. I read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that even though Jesus loved this man dearly and with great affection, that love would not keep and prevent this man from becoming and growing sick. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what Lazarus thought within and throughout this whole ordeal. There is a part deep within my heart and mind that can’t help but wonder what went through Lazarus’ heart and mind as He came down with this sickness, and wondering where Jesus was in the midst of the sickness. If there is one thing that I find myself thinking about and considering when reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, it’s that even though Jesus loved this man, and even though Jesus loved this man dearly, that didn’t mean that Jesus’ love would keep Lazarus from becoming and growing sick. I fully recognize and realize that this flies directly in the face of everything we have been taught, and everything we think within our hearts and lives, however, we must come face to face with the reality and firmly settle it within our hearts that even though we are the recipients of the love of Jesus the Christ, and even though we are the recipients of the love of the Father—that doesn’t mean that the love of the Father and the love of the Son can and will keep us from growing and becoming sick. Just because we are the recipients of the love of the Father, and just because we are the recipients of the love of the eternal Son, that doesn’t mean that the love of the Father and the love of the Son can and will keep and prevent us experiencing any type of suffering and sickness within our hearts and lives. Despite and regardless of what we have been taught and what we have been led to believe, we dare not and cannot miss and lose sight of the awesome and incredible reality that even though we are on the receiving end of the love of the Father, and are on the receiving end of the love of the Son, that that somehow eliminates the possibility of suffering and sickness.

Before I move any further into the account of Lazarus within the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, I find it absolutely necessary to call and bring your attention to the words which we find in the Old Testament book of Job concerning this man whom the Lord Himself seemed to offer and serve up to Satan when he came and appeared before the throne of God with the sons of God. If you turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament book of Job you will find it written and recorded how this man named Job was an upright man who was righteous in the sight of God, and a man who feared God and shunned evil. Despite the fact that this man was righteous in the sight of God, and despite the fact that this man feared God and shunned evil, he still found himself on the receiving end of Satan’s fury—not only once, but twice. If you read the first two chapters of the Old Testament book of Job you will come face to face with the tremendous reality that even though the Lord undoubtedly loved Job, and was kindly affectioned toward him, that didn’t mean that the Lord would keep Job from facing and experiencing any type of suffering. We would be incredibly wise to think about and consider this awesome reality, for it has the ability to shine a great deal of light on to what we find and read within the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of John concerning Lazarus. Consider if you will the words which are written within the first and second chapters of the Old Testament book of Job beginning with the words which are found within the first chapter:

“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters…And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord” (Job 1:1-12).

“Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORd said unto Satan, hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh? What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:1-10).

As you read the words which are written and recorded within the first and second chapters of the Old Testament book of Job you will find it written that Job was a man from the land of Uz, and that Job was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and shunned evil. What’s more, is that even when Satan appeared before the throne of God among the sons of God, the Lord Himself spoke of and declared Job in the same words. When speaking unto Satan concerning Job—not once, but twice—the Lord emphatically declared unto him that Job was a perfect and upright man, and that he was one who feared God and shunned evil. What we must recognize and understand is that it was precisely because Job was a perfect man and an upright man, and because Job feared God and shunned evil that the Lord seemingly offered and served him up to Satan in order to do what he desired and wished. Perhaps one of the most intriguing realities that is found within the account and narrative of the man called Job is that there is not a doubt in my mind that not only was Job a perfect and upright man, and not only was Job a man who feared God and shunned evil, but Job was also a man who we cannot deny that the living God loved and was kindly affectioned toward. When you read the words which are found within the Old Testament book of Job you will find that the living God—despite the fact that Job was a perfect and upright man, and one that feared God and shunned evil—offered him up unto Satan in order that Satan might thrust him into a period of intense suffering. What initially began with Satan stretching forth his hand and touching all of Job’s possessions, and even taking the lives of all his children would eventually culminate in Satan stretching forth his hand and striking the entire physical body of Job with boils—from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. By the time we come to the end of the second chapter—not only do we find Job without any of his children, and without his possessions, but we also find him sitting among the ashes and scraping himself with pieces of potsherds in order that he might relieve himself. Oh please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this tremendous reality, for it has the tremendous ability to shine a great deal of light on to what we read and what we find in the New Testament gospel of John. What we find in the Old Testament book of Job is absolutely remarkable and astounding, for within it we come face to face with the fact that the living God could have kept a perfect and upright man from facing and experiencing any type of suffering, and yet instead of choosing to keep and prevent him from experiencing suffering, He actually permitted and allowed it to take place. Pause for a moment and allow that to resonate within your heart and mind, and think about the tremendous reality that a living and loving God could and would seemingly allow one of His own to face and experience suffering at the hands of Satan—despite the fact that He Himself declared that this man was perfect and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. It is true the living God could have kept and prevented this man from facing and experiencing suffering, however, instead of keeping and preventing him from facing and experiencing suffering, He instead seemed to offer him up into the hands of Satan in order that Satan might do what was in his heart and mind.

Taking this a step further—you will come to the New Testament gospel of Luke and will find Jesus speaking directly unto Simon also called Peter and emphatically declaring unto him that Satan did ask for him that he might sift him as wheat. It would be one thing if the words of Jesus stopped there, however, if you read the New Testament gospel of Luke you will quickly come to the incredible realization that Jesus’ words didn’t stop with Him declaring unto Simon that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat. Instead of simply ending His words spoken unto Simon also called Peter, Jesus would go on to declare that He had prayed for him that his faith fail not, and when he was converted, he would strengthen his brethren. The words which Jesus spoke unto Simon called Peter are truly remarkable and astounding, for on the one hand we find Jesus declaring that Satan did ask to have him that he might sift him as wheat, and on the other hand we find Jesus declaring unto Simon that he prayed for him that his faith would not fail. I would like to focus on the second half of that which Jesus spoke unto Simon, for it is the words which we find in the second half of this exchange that bring us face to face with something truly unique and astounding. It is and it was true that Satan did in fact ask to have Simon that he might sift him as wheat, but it was also true that Jesus prayed for him that his faith would not fail. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to declare concerning Simon that once he was converted he would strengthen his brethren. This second half of Jesus’ words which were spoken unto Simon seem to suggest and point to the incredible reality that Jesus didn’t say no to Satan, and that Jesus even gave Satan a certain permission within the life of Simon who was also called Peter. We would be incredibly wise to think about and consider this, for it has the ability to shine an additional amount of light on that which we read and that which we find in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of John. What we find and what we read concerning Simon also called Peter is quite interesting and unique, for it would appear that even though Satan asked to have Simon that he might sift him as wheat, Jesus didn’t say no, and Jesus didn’t turn him down. It would instead appear that Jesus permitted Satan to have a certain amount of leeway within the heart and life of Simon Peter, but also prayed for him that his faith would not fail. In other words—it is true that Jesus permitted Satan to have a certain amount of flexibility within the life of Simon also called Peter, however, with that permission also came prayer, and prayer that the faith of Simon would not fail. Pause and consider this reality, for while it is true on the one hand that Jesus gave Satan permission to have Simon that he might sift him as wheat, that permission was accompanied by prayer within the heart of Jesus the Christ, as Jesus did not grant permission without and apart from prayer. What’s more, is that Jesus’ prayer for Simon was very specific, for Jesus prayed that the faith of Simon would not fail but would instead remain strong.

As I sit here this morning and think about and consider the words which we find concerning Lazarus from the town of Bethany, I can’t help but come face to face with the incredible reality that even though Jesus did in fact love Lazarus, His love would and could not keep him from become sick, and even from experiencing a certain degree and measure of suffering. What we find concerning Lazarus is that not only did he become sick, but when Jesus heard that he was sick, He chose to abide where he was another two days. This is quite astonishing and remarkable when you consider it, for not only did the love of Jesus not keep and not prevent Lazarus from becoming sick, but even when Jesus heard that the one whom he loved was sick, He chose to remain and abide where He was another two full days. We would think that on the one hand Jesus would have kept and prevented Lazarus from becoming sick, and on the other hand when Jesus heard that Lazarus had grown and become sick, he would have immediately rushed to his side and healed him. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN JESUS DOESN’T RUSH TO YOUR RESCUE? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN JESUS DOESN’T SEEM TO DROP EVERYTHING TO HELP YOU? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN JESUS DOESN’T SEEM TO SHOW UP ON TIME? HOW DO YOU RESPOND WHEN JESUS SEEMS TO DELAY IN COMING TO YOUR RESCUE AND TO THE PLACE OF YOUR NEED? The narrative of Lazarus from the town of Bethany not only points to and reveals the fact that the love of Jesus did not keep and prevent Lazarus from being sick, but even when Jesus heard that the one whom he loved had grown sick, He did not immediately drop everything He was doing and come to the rescue and aid of Lazarus. That very reality has the ability to dramatically and radically alter our line of thinking, for we tend to think that when we encounter and face certain and specific needs within our hearts and lives that Jesus drops everything and immediately rushes to our rescue. If there is one thing the narrative of Lazarus reveals, it’s that there are times within our lives when Jesus does not drop everything and immediately rush to our rescue. We sing the charismatic and contemporary song called “Rescue,” and within the song we sing how we need Jesus to come to our rescue, and how where else can we go, however, the truth of the matter is that Jesus doesn’t always come to our rescue right away. Even thinking about the disciples upon the sea in the midst of the storm we must come to the conclusion that Jesus didn’t immediately come to their rescue in the midst of the storm. It was true that Jesus did in fact come to their rescue, and would come walking upon the water in the midst of the wind and the waves, however, Jesus didn’t immediately come when the storm showed up. The gospel writer records how Jesus saw them laboring and toiling against the wind, for the wind was against them, and how Jesus ultimately came unto them there in the midst of the storm. Scripture also points to and reveals the fact that once Jesus entered into the boat the storm completely ceased and died down, and everything was made peaceful and calm.

When you begin reading the words which are written and recorded within the New Testament gospel of John you will quickly discover that there was a certain man named Lazarus from Bethany—this man who was the brother of Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair—who had grown and become sick, and how his sisters sent Jesus word that he whom He loved is sick. We must take this into consideration and pay attention to the words which Mary and Martha spoke unto Jesus, for there is not a doubt in my mind that they appealed to the fact that Jesus loved Lazarus in the hopes that Jesus would immediately come to the aid and to the rescue of this man. The truth of the matter, is that despite the fact that Jesus loved this man named Lazarus—that didn’t mean He would keep and prevent him from being sick, and that didn’t cause him to immediately drop everything he was doing, leave where He was, and make the journey unto Lazarus’ bedside. Please don’t miss the incredible importance of what is written and recorded here in the opening verses of this chapter, for not only did Jesus’ love for Lazarus not guard and protect him from growing and becoming sick, but neither did the love of Jesus compel Him to immediately rush to the aid and rescue of Lazarus. We would think that the love of Jesus would have at least compelled and propelled Jesus to immediately come to the aid and rescue of Lazarus in order that He might heal him, and yet the truth of the matter is that even though Jesus loved Lazarus, that love would not cause Him to immediately rush to the help and aid of Lazarus. I fully recognize and understand that these words fly in the face of everything you have been taught to believe concerning Jesus the Christ, and even concerning the Lord, and how you have been taught that when you call on the name of the Lord that He immediately rushes to your aid and comes to your rescue. While it is true that when you call upon the name of the Lord He can come to your rescue, and can come to the point and place of your need, I would also dare say and suggest that there might very well be times when his response isn’t immediate and isn’t according to your time table. I would strongly suggest to you who are reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture that there are times when even the love of God does not automatically guarantee that Jesus will come to your rescue immediately and right away. Please don’t miss and quickly dismiss this reality, for it flies directly against absolutely everything you have been taught to believe within many charismatic circles within and throughout your life. Within the opening verses of the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of John—not only do we come face to face with the fact that the love of Jesus didn’t keep and prevent Lazarus from being sick, but neither did the love of Jesus compel Jesus to immediately come to the aid and rescue of Lazarus. The apostle John writes and records that even when Jesus received word from Mary and Martha that Lazarus whom He loved was sick, He chose to abide two more days in that place. Adding even more to this, the apostle John goes on to write concerning Jesus that He loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus, and that when He heard that he [he being Lazarus] was sick] He abode two days still in the same place where He was.

How absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that when you read the words concerning Lazarus that not only did Jesus love Lazarus, but Jesus also loved his two sisters Mary and Martha. What’s more, is that despite the fact that Jesus did love Lazarus and his two sisters, that didn’t automatically guarantee that Jesus would and could have kept Lazarus from growing and becoming sick. What we find and what we read within the narrative of Lazarus is something completely different from much of what we have been taught and what we have come to believe—namely, concerning the love of Jesus the Christ and the love of the Father. There is not a doubt in my mind that this passage has the ability to be incredibly controversial in nature, for not only does it speak to the nature of the love of Jesus the Christ, but it also reveals how the love of Jesus doesn’t automatically guarantee that we cannot and will not face and experience suffering within and throughout our lives. If there is one thing the narrative of Lazarus reveals to those who would read the words contained therein, it’s that the love of Jesus doesn’t automatically guarantee that we cannot and will not face and experience suffering, and even death. What’s more, is that the narrative of Lazarus reveals that even though Jesus might very well love us, and does in fact love us—that doesn’t mean that the love which Jesus has for and toward us will guarantee that He will automatically come to our rescue immediately when we need it within our lives. On the one hand Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from growing and becoming sick, and on the other hand Jesus could have shown up while Lazarus was sick in order that He might bring healing to his physical body and prevent death from taking place. The truth of the matter, however, is that not only did Jesus not keep and prevent Lazarus from becoming sick in the first place, but even when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick through word sent unto him by his two sisters, He chose to abide still two days in the place where He was. This has the dramatic ability to completely rock and shake our entire world—particularly concerning the love which Jesus the Christ, and even the Father have toward us. Please note that I firmly believe that when we call upon the name of the Lord, the Lord can in fact choose to come to our rescue, and can in fact come to our aid in order that he might rescue us. With that being said, I must also emphatically declare that just because Jesus loves us, and just because the Father loves us—that doesn’t mean that they will immediately come to our rescue right when we find ourselves in need of it. Lazarus was sick, and the sickness which was present within his physical body would initially lead to death, and yet Jesus would not immediately come to the rescue of Lazarus. We would expect Jesus to immediately come to the rescue of Lazarus when He received word that he was sick, and yet the truth of the matter is that not only did Jesus choose to abide where He was for two more days, but when He finally did show up, Lazarus had been dead and in the grave for four days. How absolutely astonishing it is to think about and consider the fact that this same Jesus who loved Lazarus could have prevented Lazarus from becoming sick, and could have immediately come to His rescue upon receiving word from Mary and Martha, however, the truth of the matter is that when Jesus heard and received word that Lazarus whom He loved was sick, he chose to abide two more days in the same place where He was. Oh how absolutely intriguing and challenging it is to think about the fact that even though Jesus does in fact love us, and that nothing shall separate us from the love of God toward us in Christ Jesus—that doesn’t mean that that love can and will cause Jesus to automatically come to our rescue when we find ourselves in need of it. Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, and yet not only did He choose to remain where He was, but He chose to remain where He was for two full days.

If there is one thing we must come face to face with when reading the account and narrative of Lazarus in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, it’s the fact that we must reconcile within our hearts and minds that just because Jesus loves us, and just because Jesus is kindly affectioned toward us—that doesn’t mean that Jesus can and will prevent us from experiencing and facing any degree and measure of suffering. What’s more, is that just because Jesus loves us—that doesn’t mean that Jesus can and will immediately come to our rescue when we find ourselves in need of assistance and help. The word which Mary and Martha sent to Jesus might very well be the equivalent of calling upon the name of Jesus, and entreating Him for help, and yet not only did Jesus not send word back to Mary and Martha, but He chose to abide where He was for a full two days after receiving that report. Oh how in the world do you reconcile this within your heart and mind? How do you reconcile and come to terms with the fact that just because Jesus the Christ does in fact love you—that doesn’t mean that His love will automatically guarantee that he will come to your rescue. Please note that I am fully aware of that which is written and that which is recorded within the Old Testament book of the Psalms—specifically and particularly concerning the words which David prayed unto the living God, and how David emphatically declared that He called upon the name of the Lord, and the Lord heard his cry and came to his rescue. Oh, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we come face to face with, and come to terms with the awesome and tremendous reality that there will be times within our lives when even though we call upon the name of the Lord, and even though we cry out to Jesus, that doesn’t automatically guarantee that He will come to our rescue immediately when we call and cry out. Jesus received report that Lazarus was sick, and yet He chose to abide two full days where He was. Oh that we would read these words and rather than growing discouraged within our hearts and minds, we would ask and allow our faith and confidence to be strengthened. Oh that we would recognize and understand that even though permission might have been granted within our lives for the adversary to assault and assail us, prayer has also been offered up on our behalf that our faith would not fail, and that when we were converted and restored, we would strengthen our brethren. Oh that we would allow ourselves to recognize and understand that the love of the Father and the love of the Son doesn’t automatically guarantee the prevention of our suffering, nor does it automatically guarantee the immediate response of Jesus when we call upon His name, and even when we cry out to Him. Perhaps the single greatest expression of trust and faith that can be displayed and manifested within this particular passage is recognizing that even though the love of Jesus might not keep and prevent us from experiencing suffering, and even though the love of Jesus doesn’t immediately guarantee that He will immediately come to our rescue—that doesn’t at all or in any way mean that Jesus loves us any less, and even that Jesus isn’t concerned about what we are going through. What’s more, is that we must reconcile within our hearts and minds when reading this passage that just because Jesus didn’t show up immediately after receiving word from Mary and Martha, that in no way implies, nor does it even suggest that Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and even Lazarus any less. Oh that we would ask and allow the Holy Spirit to help us reconcile the love of God and the love of the Father and the suffering we face within our lives, and even the reality that just because we suffer and call upon the name of the living God, that doesn’t mean that Jesus will automatically come to our rescue.

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