When Love Is Restrained & Held Back: Love Doesn’t Always Show Up When We Want It To

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically today’s passage is found in the eleventh chapter of this New Testament book. “Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not under death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was” (John 11:1-6).

 

            “Then after that he saith to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? IF any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:7-16).

 

            “Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha said unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him” (John 11:17-29).

 

 

            “Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him? The said unto him, Lord, come and see” (John 11:30-35).

 

            “Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this. Man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him and let him go” (John 11:36-44).

 

            “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? For this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him; and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, no consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. And the Jews’ Passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him” (John 11:45-57).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find one of the greatest resurrections performed by the Lord Jesus within the four gospels. If you read the four gospel narratives you will encounter different times when Jesus was called upon to bring back to life that which is dead and Jesus’ willingness to accommodate the request. Within the four gospel narratives you will find the Lord Jesus coming to the city of Nain and how a funeral procession was taking place there in the midst of the city. As you read the words found within the gospels you will find that as Jesus and His disciples came unto this city they noticed a great procession coming out as the only son of a widow was being brought forth from the city. Scripture records how this son who had died was the only son of this widow and how after having lost her husband at some point in time she had now lost her only son. Jesus showed up at this particular point in time when this widow literally had lost everything for not only had she lost her husband at an earlier time but now she had lost her only son. Jesus showed up at this particular point in time when this woman found herself all alone in the world as she had outlived both her husband and her son—both of who had died while she was still permitted to remain alive. Oh it’s quite interesting to think about the words found in this passage of Scripture and how this woman was on the brink of losing absolutely everything and yet how Jesus would show up and place His hand upon the vessel upon which this man was being carried and call forth this only son of the widow back to life. How absolutely powerful it is to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and read how Jesus would show up at just the right time when men and women were mourning death and how Jesus would give back to this woman her only son whom she thought she had lost.

 

            If you continue reading the four gospel narratives you will find how a certain ruler named Jairus came unto Jesus because of his daughter who was taken ill and on the verge of death. This man Jairus who was a ruler of the synagogue came unto Jesus in a place of desperation as he entreated Him to come unto his home and bring healing unto his daughter. This particular account is quite remarkable when you take the time to think about it for within it we essentially find an interruption and something that would delay Jesus in coming unto Jairus’ daughter. In all reality I would dare say that what we find within the narrative of Jairus and his daughter ties into the narrative found within the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John—particularly when we speak about the subject of delay. You will recall that Jesus did in fact agree to make the journey with Jairus and travel unto his home that He might bring healing unto his daughter, however, while Jesus was making this journey a woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years would make her way through the crowd seeking her own healing and miracle within her physical body. This woman had an issue of blood which she struggled with for twelve years and had spent everything she had on physicians seeking to be relieved of that which oppressed her. The beloved physician Luke wrote how this woman had spent everything she had on physicians seeking relief for her issue of blood and yet despite doing so she was in no wise better but grew worse. This woman would make her way through the crowd of people which were journeying together with Jesus and His disciples unto the home of Jairus and would touch the hem of His garment. It would be upon her touching the hem of the garment of Jesus that the fountain of her blood would be dried up and she would be completely and utterly healed of the plague that was present within her body.

 

 

            The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture are incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about it for Jesus wasn’t journeying to where this woman was to bring healing unto her physical body. Jesus was journeying together with Jairus, His twelve disciples and a throne of people that would be making the journey with Him—presumably to witness and behold that which Jesus would indeed perform within the life of Jairus. That which we find in this passage of Scripture describes how there would not only be an interruption which would take place within the life of Jairus but also how there would be a delay which would take place as well. We dare not miss and lose sight of what is found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that while Jesus was indeed on his way to bring healing to this particular man’s daughter there would be someone else who would come with her own need for healing. Here we have Jesus preparing to make the journey unto the home of Jairus to heal his daughter of her infirmity and yet while He was doing so there would be something that would interrupt His journey. That which would interrupt His journey to the home of Jairus would be a woman with an issue of blood who would make her way through the crowd that she might touch the hem of His garment. It would be upon touching the hem of His garment she would be completely healed and made whole of the plague within her body. What makes this all the more interesting when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that as soon as this woman was healed Jesus perceived that power went out from Him and actually stopped and turned Himself about in the crowd to see who it was that touched Him. When asking who it was that touched Him the disciples of Jesus declared unto Him that there was a great multitude of people who were journeying with Him and all were pressing against Him.

 

            What makes the narrative of Jairus so incredibly remarkable when you consider it is when you consider the fact that not only would there be something that would interrupt Jesus’ journey to where this man’s daughter lie at home and sick in bed but there would also be a delay in Jesus’ coming. If you think about it Jesus could have continued journeying even after this woman was healed and even after knowing that power had gone out from His physical person and body. Jesus could have continued along His way without stopping and turning Himself in the crowd seeking who touched Him. Had Jesus continued journeying to where the daughter of Jairus was He might have arrived while the daughter was still alive and brought healing unto her physical body. The truth of the matter, however, is that Jesus did stop Himself in the midst of the crowd and He did turn himself in the midst of it asking who it was that touched Him. Jesus knew the need within Jairus’ heart and life was urgent and yet He still made the decision to stop Himself in the midst of the crowd and inquire who it was who touched Him. It would be at this time this woman would come forth trembling and present herself before Jesus explaining what had happened. Moved with compassion Jesus would declare unto the woman that her faith had made her whole and that she would go forth in peace. Please don’t miss this for while Jesus was making His way with Jairus to bring healing into the life of his daughter there would be that which would not only interrupt His journey but also that which would cause a brief delay as Jesus would not only heal this woman of her issue of blood but would also take the time to inquire who it was that touched her that He might encourage her concerning her faith and the wholeness which took place in her physical body.

 

            What we find in this passage of Scripture is incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to consider it for it calls and draws our attention to this concept of delay and interruption—that which would cause Jairus’ daughter to ultimately die. As you read the words found in this passage you will encounter the reality that while Jesus was talking with this woman and after He had encouraged her faith and spoke of her being made whole there would be those who would come from the house of Jairus who would declare unto him that his daughter had died. Upon coming unto Jairus and declaring unto him how his daughter had died they would also declare unto him that there was no need to trouble the Master anymore. I am sure in that moment Jairus might have experienced a conflict of faith for here he had come unto Jesus entreating Him to come unto his home that He might bring healing unto His daughter. It would be during and as a direct result of an interruption and delay that his daughter would die and he would receive word concerning this fact. It is incredibly important for us to recognize and understand this as it draws and calls our attention to the fact that there are times within our lives—even during those times when we are living with a very real and a very present need—and yet we find ourselves experiencing that which seems to interrupt and cause Jesus to be delayed. Here was Jairus making his way with Jesus unto his home that Jesus might bring healing unto his daughter and yet what we find is a delay which would take place and be caused by an interruption. Not only would there be a delay and interruption but there would also be report that would come forth that Jairus’ daughter had died and that there was no longer any need to trouble the Master.

 

            The language and words presented before us in this passage of Scripture are truly unique and captivating when you consider them for not only do they speak of delay and interruption but they also speak of a report that would come forth speaking of death and the need to no longer trouble Jesus. What I so love about the words found in this passage is that when Jesus heard the words and report which was brought forth unto Jairus He would instruct Jairus to not lose heart and to continue to believe and have faith. Jesus realized there would be this conflict of faith that would take place within the life of Jairus when He was journeying with Jesus and yet heard the report that his daughter had died and how there was no longer any need to trouble the Master. We must needs pay close attention to this for there in the midst of that conflict of faith we find Jesus encouraging and strengthening the faith of Jairus and instructing Him to continue to hold on, to hold fast and to believe without wavering or doubting. It is incredibly important that we pay close attention to this as it calls and draws our attention to the fact that in the midst of interruption, in the midst of delay, and in the midst of this report Jesus would still strengthen this man’s faith and encourage him to continue to have faith and believe. Not only this but even though this report had come forth unto Jairus concerning his daughter Jesus would still continue journeying together with Jairus unto his home as if to completely and entirely ignore the report that was brought forth. What’s more is that when Jesus came unto the home of Jairus he would declare unto him that his daughter was not dead but only slept. It’s necessary for us to pay attention to this for some of the language found here in this passage is also found within the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John.

 

            There at the home of Jairus Jesus would speak and declare how his daughter was not dead but only slept—words which received laughter and scorn from all those who were present at that particular time. Here we have Jesus declaring that this daughter of Jairus was not dead but only slept and Scripture records how those present at this time would laugh Him to scorn. What Jesus would do next was truly astonishing for we find Jesus instructing everyone to be removed from the house save Peter, James and John and Jairus and his wife. The only people who were permitted to be present in the room where Jairus’ daughter lie were Jesus’ inner circle of disciples and this daughter’s parents. It would be there in that room Jesus would stretch forth His hand and take the hand of this little girl who was only twelve years of age and would speak the words “Talitha cumi,” which literally means “Little girl, I tell thee to rise.” There in that room Jesus would call forth this young girl to awake and to arise and she would immediately do so in the presence of her parents as well as Peter, James and John. What a truly awesome and incredible truth it is to read the words found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that even in the place of delay and interruption, even in the place of a report of death, even in the place of a conflict of faith and doubt, and even in the place of laughter and scorn Jesus would still restore life unto this little girl and present her unto her parents. It would be there in that room where this little girl was lying that Jesus would call her to awaken and arise and she would immediately awaken and be presented unto her parents. Oh how truly incredible this passage is for it speaks of Jesus’ willingness to continue on the journey with Jairus—even though he had received a report that his daughter died and was told not to trouble the Master any longer.

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced the narrative of Jairus and his daughter must needs be considered when reading the words found in the eleventh chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John for some of the same language found in the account of Jairus would also be found in that of Lazarus. As you come to the narrative of Lazarus you will again find the words and language of delay—this despite the fact that you will not find any mention of interruption. Also within the narrative of Lazarus you won’t find any mention of any other healing that would take place which would cause Jesus to be delayed in coming unto that place where Lazarus was. As you come to the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John you will find that it beginning with the description that a certain man was sick whose name was Lazarus—and not only was this man sick but he was also from the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It would be this same Mary who would anoint the Lord with ointment and would wipe the feet of Jesus with her hair. It would be this same Mary and Martha who would invite the Lord into their home where Mary would sit at the feet of Jesus as Martha labored and toiled that she might serve the Lord there in that house whose brother was sick. It would be the brother of this same Mary who anointed the feet of Jesus with ointment and wiped them with the hairs of her head and who sat at His feet whose brother Lazarus would be sick. What’s more is that it would be when their brother Lazarus would become ill that they would send word unto Jesus declaring unto Him that the one whom He loved was sick. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of what is found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find a powerful presentation of a collision of sickness and the love of Christ as despite the fact Jesus loved Lazarus He would not keep nor would He prevent Him from being sick. Jesus could have kept Lazarus from growing sick and yet the truth of the matter is that Lazarus would indeed become sick. Not only this but Lazarus would become sick unto the point of death for there is a sense of urgency found within the report and words which Mary and Martha would send unto Jesus.

 

            Upon reading the words which are found here in this passage you will find how Mary and Martha would send word unto Jesus how the one whom He loved was sick. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that Mary and Martha used the language of love to appeal to Jesus for they might very well have thought that by invoking this concept and reality of relationship it would solidify and guarantee Jesus coming unto them immediately. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what is found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find a friend of Jesus whom He loved growing sick—and not only growing sick but also growing sick unto the point of death. Undoubtedly Mary and Martha would send word unto the Lord Jesus Christ appealing to Him to come unto them that He might bring healing unto their brother. What we find in this passage of Scripture, however, is quite astonishing when you consider it for the apostle John writes how upon Jesus hearing the report brought unto Him from Mary and Martha He would first declare unto His disciples that this sickness was not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified. The words which Jesus would speak unto His disciples upon hearing and receiving the report from Mary and Martha would be similar to that which He would speak concerning the man which was born blind. You will recall that when Jesus and His disciples came upon this man who was born blind from birth His disciples asked Him who had sinned—his parents or himself—that he was born blind. Jesus would respond by correcting their thinking and declaring that it was neither this man’s sin nor the sin of his parents that would cause him to be born blind but that the works and glory of God might be manifested within his life. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this for it is directly linked and connected to that which is found in the eleventh chapter of the same gospel narrative.

 

            In the ninth chapter of this gospel we find Jesus declaring unto His disciples that this man was born blind that the works of God might be showed forth and manifested within His life and here in the eleventh chapter we find Jesus declaring that this sickness within the life of Lazarus was not unto death but for the glory of God that the Son of God might be glorified. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and consider the fact that just as the man who was born blind was ordained and appointed to experience the works of God within his life so also was this sickness within Lazarus ordained and appointed that the glory of God and that the Son of God might be glorified therein. What an incredible thought it is to think about and consider the words and language found within the eleventh chapter for within it we find the Lord Jesus declaring that this sickness within the physical body of Lazarus would be that the glory of God might be manifested and that the Son of God might be glorified. What we have to realize and understand here is that Jesus would not yet reveal that this sickness would lead to and ultimately result in death. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus knew and understood Lazarus would ultimate die and that it would be in the midst and in the place of death He would be permitted to show up. Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding the narrative of Lazarus is that although this sickness within the physical body of Lazarus was ordained and appointed that the glory of God might be manifested within his life Jesus would and could not show up in that sickness. Stop and think about the fact that Jesus would speak of this sickness within the physical body of Lazarus and would declare that it would be unto and for the glory of God and yet it would ultimately result in death. What we must needs realize and understand is that the glory of God was not destined nor was it appointed to be manifested in sickness but that sickness might produce death and it would be in that place of death Jesus would be permitted to make His way unto Lazarus.

 

            The words and language we find in this passage of Scripture is absolutely incredible when you take the time to think about it for within it we find Jesus declaring unto His disciples that the sickness which Lazarus would face and experience was not unto death but unto the glory of God and that the Son of God might be glorified. Oh we must needs recognize and pay close attention to this for it almost seems like there would be an apparent contradiction within this passage as Jesus would declare that this sickness would not be unto death and yet Lazarus would ultimate die. There would be those who would read the words found in this passage and see this as an apparent contradiction for Jesus would declare that this sickness would not be unto death and yet death would ensue. If there is one thing we must understand when reading this passage is that there is a vast difference between Jesus healing Lazarus that he might not taste and see death and Jesus allowing Lazarus to die for that death had an expiration date. Lazarus was not only permitted to die but was permitted to be buried and be buried in the grave for four days before Jesus would show up at the tomb. One of the greatest truths found in this passage of Scripture is that Mary and Martha expected Jesus to show up at the beside of Lazarus to bring healing and they never thought nor did they expect Jesus to show up at the graveside. There is not a doubt in my mind that Mary and Martha thought Jesus would show up at the bedside of Lazarus and raise him up from his bed of affliction and sickness and bring healing into his physical body. The truth of the matter, however, is that this simply is not and would not be the case for Jesus would not show up at the beside of Lazarus in sickness but at the graveside in death.

 

            WHEN JESUS SHOWS UP AT THE GRAVESIDE IN DEATH RATHER THAN THE BEDSIDE IN SICKNESS! There would be those of us who would read the words found in this passage of Scripture and be somewhat disappointed and even frustrated with Jesus when we read of Him delaying His coming unto Lazarus and tarrying and abiding where He was for another two days. The apostle John writes and records how Jesus loved Martha and her sister, and Lazarus as well, and yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick he abode two days still in the same place where He was. Oh stop and consider the tremendous truth that is found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here is a second mention of Jesus loving this man named Lazarus—and not only loving this man Lazarus but also loving his sisters Mary and Martha. What is truly unique is that despite this love which Jesus had for Mary, for Martha and for Lazarus it would not be enough for Him to make the journey from where He was unto Bethany when He received word and report that Lazarus was sick. This is actually something worth thinking about and considering for there are many of us who know and understand the love of God and the love of Jesus Christ toward us. There are those among us who recognize and understand that Jesus does indeed and does in fact love us with an unconditional love and yet what we must realize is that there are times when that love does not permit nor does it grant freedom for Jesus to step in when we would like Him to and when we would expect Him to. The apostle John makes it perfectly and abundantly clear within this passage of Scripture that Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus and yet how that love would not grant Him the license and freedom to show up in sickness. I am sure Jesus might have wanted to come rushing unto the beside of Lazarus and bring healing to His physical body and yet love wasn’t enough to bring Him to his beside.

 

            LOVE ISN’T ENOUGH! LOVE ISN’T ALWAYS ENOUGH! SOMETIMES LOVE DOES NOT GRANT FREEDOM! SOMETIMES LOVE DOESN’T GRANT LICENSE FOR ACTION! The apostle John was very clear and very specific when writing these words and how Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha. Despite the love which Jesus had for and toward this trio of siblings it would not be enough for Him to come when summoned and to come when entreated by them. I am sure Mary and Martha thought that Jesus would surely and certainly come unto them in their hour of need when their brother Lazarus was sick. Undoubtedly they realize and recognized that there was something about this sickness within the physical body of Lazarus that would threaten his life and as a direct result they would send word to Jesus hoping and thinking that Jesus would show up. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that although Jesus loved Mary, and although Jesus loved Martha, and although Jesus loved Lazarus that love would not grant Him license to act. We would like to think that love would not only compel but also free Jesus to come to where Lazarus was and bring healing into His physical body and yet the truth of the matter is that love would not be enough to allow Jesus to show up in sickness. With this being said we must needs realize and understand the direct collision which took place between the love of Jesus and the glory of God and how even the love of Jesus would be secondary to the glory of God—and not only to the glory of God but I would also dare say to the divine will ordained and appointed by the living God.

 

            We would like to think that Jesus’ love for Lazarus and his two sisters would be all that was needed to show up in the midst of sickness and raise this man who was His friend from his bed of affliction and yet it would not be enough. Oh there is something worth noting and pointing out when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find a seeming contradiction which was present between the glory of God and the love of Christ. Essentially what is on full display here in this passage is the love which Jesus would have for and toward Lazarus and his two sisters and yet how that love would have to take a back seat to the glory of God. There is absolutely no denying the fact that Jesus loved Lazarus and his two sisters and yet that love would not be enough for Him to act in the place of sickness and bring healing unto the physical body of Lazarus. There is absolutely no denying the fact that Jesus loved Mary, and Martha and their brother Lazarus for it is mentioned multiple times within this passage. Even later on when Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus those who witnessed and beheld it would profess how much He had loved this man. The apostle John wrote how Lazarus whom Jesus loved was sick, and how Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Not only this but the Jews themselves who would witness Jesus weeping over the death of Lazarus would themselves bear witness to this love when they would declare how much He loved this man. Even with this tremendous manifestation of love within the heart and soul of Jesus toward Lazarus we must needs recognize and understand that this love was not license for Jesus to immediately show up and bring healing to the physical body of Jesus. I am sure love would have wanted to show up and bring healing into the physical body of this man and I am sure that love would have preferred showing up as soon as report was brought unto it, however, what we find here in this passage of Scripture is that love would have to take a backseat to the glory of the living and eternal God.

 

            WHEN LOVE TAKES A BACKSEAT! WHEN LOVE IS FORCED TO TAKE A BACKSEAT! The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth that in the case of Lazarus whom Jesus loved that love would have to take a backseat. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Lazarus was one whom Jesus loved and I am sure that when the apostle John wrote the narrative and account of Lazarus in his gospel he was attempting to invoke something within the hearts and souls of his readers. I am sure that when those who perhaps read this narrative for the first time they would think that because Jesus loved this man and his sisters He would show up when receiving report that he was sick. I am sure that there would be those who would think that love would immediately respond and show up when the report is presented and given and would be utterly and completely shocked when they would continue reading and discover how Jesus would abide and tarry where He was for two full days. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for what we find in this passage is a tremendous picture of love—and not just any love but the agape and unconditional and eternal love of Jesus for and toward Lazarus and his two sisters—and how love on this particular occasion needed to take a backseat to the glory of the living God. We would like to read this passage and think that the love which Jesus had for and toward this man and his two sisters was enough for Jesus to come forth from where He was and bring healing into His physical body. The truth of the matter, however, is that even though Jesus loved Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus He could not act on that love. Perhaps I should declare that even though Jesus loved Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus He could not act on that love immediately and right away.

 

            I absolutely love the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with something which countless men and women struggle with—particularly during times of sickness, during times of suffering and during times of struggle. More often than not when men and women enter into and face times of suffering, struggle and sickness they find themselves questioning the love which Jesus has for and toward them. There are times when men and women enter into and face sickness, suffering and struggle and find themselves questioning whether or not Jesus loves them and/or whether or not He has somehow stopped loving them. I am sure that when Jesus did not immediately show up when Mary and Martha sent word and report unto Him they might have questioned the type of relationship He had with them. I am sure that these two sisters—perhaps even Lazarus himself—might have questioned the love which Jesus professed to have for and toward them. While Scripture does not present this within this passage I can’t help but wonder what went through the heart and mind of Lazarus when he realized that Jesus was not showing up. Is it possible that when Lazarus realized and recognized that Jesus would not show up he struggled and wrestled within himself in a conflict of faith and doubt? Is it possible that these three siblings found themselves questioning the love which Jesus had for and toward them when they realized and recognized that Jesus was not showing up? Not only this but when the apostle John writes and presents this narrative he does so suggesting Jesus sent no word unto these two sisters and their brother Lazarus that He was going to come yet could not come when they desired and requested Him to.

 

            Perhaps one of the greatest truths found within this passage of Scripture is when you consider the fact that although Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus that love was not enough to grant Jesus license to act on that love. We would like to think that love is enough for Jesus to act—particularly and especially in the midst of suffering, struggle, and sickness—and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. If there is one thing this passage demonstrates and reveals it’s that there are times when love—even the love which Jesus has for and toward us—must take a back seat and submit itself to the glory of God and to the divine will of the Father. The apostle John made it absolutely clear when writing this account that Jesus did indeed and did in fact love Lazarus and his two sisters and I am convinced that he did so that it might be settled within our hearts and minds concerning the type of relationship which Jesus had with this trio of siblings. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the apostle John presented this particular truth within this passage of Scripture to highlight and underscore the tremendous truth that it is possible for Jesus to love us—and not only for Jesus to love us but knowing that Jesus loves us—and yet that love not being enough for Jesus to immediately act. What’s more is that I am absolutely convinced that the same truth that was found and presented within the heart of Lazarus was and still is true within our lives today. I am absolutely convinced that even though Jesus loves us with an unconditional and eternal love that love doesn’t always grant Him license and freedom to act when we find ourselves in the place of need. RESTRAINED LOVE! WHEN LOVE IS RESTRAINED! WHEN LOVE IS HELD BACK!

 

            I sit here today thinking about and reading the words found in this passage of Scripture and I find myself encountering and coming face to face with the fact that there are times when love—particularly and especially the love of Christ—is not only restrained but is also held back. Despite the fact we would like that love to act and act when we desire and want it to there are times when it is restrained and when it is held back. Even though we would like to think and believe that love is enough for Jesus to show up and immediately act on our behalf the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. I am absolutely and completely convinced that even in our generation and even in the world in which we live in we would like to think and believe that the love of Jesus is enough for Him to immediately act on our behalf and to show up and show Himself strong. What we must realize, however, is that there are times when this love is restrained and held back because of and in light of the glory and will of the Father. There are times when the love of Christ is restrained and prevented from acting within our hearts and lives because there is something greater at work within our lives. Oh we would like to think that love is enough for Jesus to show up in the midst of sickness and yet we must needs realize that there are times when love cannot show up in sickness because the glory of God must be manifested in death. What we find and read within this passage is the apparent contradiction between the love of God and the glory of God when the love of Jesus would be restrained and held back because of the divine glory of God. In the opening verses of this chapter we find an apparent contradiction and conflict of the love of Christ and the glory of the Father as Jesus would and could not show up when Lazarus was sick. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus remained, tarried and abode where He was two more days according to the divine will and purpose of the Father.

 

            It is absolutely necessary that we draw and call our attention to the apparent contradiction and conflict between the love of Christ and the glory of God within this passage of Scripture for when we come to Jesus showing up at the graveside of Lazarus we find the collision of that same love of Christ and the glory of God. While in the opening verses of this passage we find an apparent conflict between the love of Christ toward this trio of siblings and the glory of God we find later on these same two realities colliding together at the grave of Lazarus on the other side of the stone which was rolled before the entrance of the tomb. Oh it is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and pay close attention to this as it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that there are times when the love of Christ is indeed very real and yet might appear to be absent and distant because He doesn’t show up when we need Him to or even when we would like Him to. It is quite possible for there to be times when the love of Christ can indeed be incredibly strong and powerful toward us and yet that love is restrained and held back because of the divine will of the eternal God. There are times within our lives when the love of Christ—even the love of God Himself—must be restrained and held back. Lest you think that I am somehow off the mark with making such a statement we must needs recognize and recall the suffering and death of Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt that the Father loved the Son and the Son loved the Father for even Jesus Himself spoke of and declared this to be true. Scripture makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that the Father loved the Son and yet despite the fact the Father loved the Son He would and could not show up in the midst of the suffering and agony of His Son at the hands of the religious and at the hands of sinners. Imagine what it was like for the Father to watch and behold His only begotten Son suffer at the hands of religion and sinners and knowing that He could not show up and intervene in the midst of it.

 

            I am thoroughly and completely convinced that there is an intrinsic link and connection between the narrative of Lazarus’ sickness and Jesus’ suffering for in both cases we find love being restrained and held back. In the case of the sickness of Lazarus we find the love of Christ being restrained and being held back in light of the glory of the Father. In the case of the suffering of Christ we find the love of the Father being restrained and held back in light of His glory and His divine will. Think about the fact that Jesus could have acted while Lazarus was still alive and Jesus could have shown up at Lazarus’ bedside and healed Him and yet the love which He had for him and his sisters would be restrained and held back that the glory of the Father might be manifested within his life and in the earth. The love of the Father which He had for His only begotten Son in whom He was well pleased could have acted and intervened on behalf of Jesus in the midst of His suffering at the hands of religion and at the hands of sinners and yet even the love of the Father would be restrained and held back. WHEN LOVE IS RESTRAINED IN SICKNESS AND SUFFERING! WHEN LOVE IS HELD BACK IN THE MIDST OF SICKNESS AND SUFFERING! Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that we have a great need to recognize and realize that there are times within our lives when the love of Christ and the love of the Father are indeed restrained and held back—even during times of sickness and suffering. It would be love that was restrained and held back in the midst of the sickness of Lazarus and it would be love that was restrained and held back in the midst of the suffering of Jesus.

 

            I fully realize and recognize that when you read these words you might struggle and wrestle with them inside your heart and soul and I would argue and contend that such thoughts, emotions and feelings are indeed natural. With that being said, however, it is absolutely necessary that if there is one thing the sickness of Lazarus and the suffering of Jesus reveals it’s that love can indeed and can in fact be restrained. Not only this but the love which we are speaking about is no ordinary love nor is it any earthly love found within the hearts and souls of man. When I write and speak about love being restrained and love being held back I am speaking about that love being the love of Christ for and toward Lazarus and even the love of the Father for and toward His Son. We would like to think and even believe that love can always act and how love can always move according to its own beat and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. There are indeed times within our hearts and lives when love is restrained and held back—and even held back and restrained within sickness and suffering—not because that love isn’t real or isn’t manifested but because there is something greater at work than love. Such a reality and thought might entirely and altogether confuse and baffle us when we think about it, however, if there is one thing the suffering of Jesus and the sickness of Lazarus reveals it’s that there are times when there is something greater at work than love. Not only this but there are times when love simply isn’t enough and when it has to take a backseat to the glory of God, to the works of God and to the divine will of God. There are times when the love of God seems to be at odds with His own will because although His love might compel Him to act it’s His will that keeps Him from doing so. Although the love of the Father might compel Him to rise up from his place and accomplish what we desire within our lives it is the will of the Father that restrains and holds Him back from doing so.

 

            What I must needs realize and acknowledge when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is how it was indeed true Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, however, that love would and could not act independent, apart from and outside of the glory and will of the Father. Even though Jesus loved this trio of siblings He would be restrained from immediately acting on that love and what could have compelled Him to immediately leave where He was and make the journey to where Lazarus was. The apostle John makes it perfectly and abundantly clear on more than one occasion in this passage that Jesus loved Lazarus and His sisters and yet how that love was restrained and would still need to be submitted to the will of the Father. This actually leads me to something which we might not always think about and yet it’s something that requires a tremendous amount of time, attention and detail. There is within Scripture a great deal of language surrounding the need to love our brother, to love our neighbor, to love our enemies, to love our wives, to love each other and the like, and yet perhaps one of the greatest things we must needs realize is how that love must needs be submitted to the divine will of the Father. Even though we know and understand what the apostle Paul wrote in the thirteenth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints we must recognize that even our love must be submitted to the Father—and not only submitted to the Father but submitted to the divine will of the Father. We would like to think that our love grants us the freedom and license to act how we would want and when we would want to and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. Although love would compel us to act according to our own will, according to our down desires, according to our needs, and even according to our own agendas the truth of the matter is that it must needs be submitted to the divine will of the Father.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the fact that although Jesus loved Lazarus as well as his sisters Mary and Martha He would be restrained by the glory of God and what He wanted to accomplish through the life of Lazarus in death. How incredibly interesting it is to think about the fact that we would like Jesus to act based on love and we would like to think that He would act according to that love when we want Him to and how we want Him to. The truth of the matter is the fact that there are times when even though Jesus loves us unconditionally and with an everlasting love that love is still submitted to the will, the timing and the purpose of the Father. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters and yet that love would and could not allow Him to act according to His own will and desire. The love which Jesus had toward Lazarus and his two sisters would be directly, fully and completely submitted to the divine will of the Father and He could and would not operate outside of that. This same reality was true even of the Father in the midst of the suffering of Jesus as the love which He had for His only begotten Son was submitted to His will and His word. What we must needs understand is that the love which the eternal Father had for His only begotten Son was submitted to His will and His word—His will being that which was predetermined and ordained before the foundation of the world and His word which was spoken by and through the Law and the prophets concerning Christ. The Father loved the Son and yet the Father was completely and utterly bound to His word and His will and would not operate outside of and apart from either one of them. The Father loved the Son and entrusted all things into His hands and into His authority and yet when it came to the suffering of the Son the Father would and could not act on that love as it was directly submitted and accountable to His will and His word.

 

            We must needs recognize and understand this particular truth as it calls and draws our attention to the fact that even our own love which we have for and toward others has to be submitted to the will of the Father and to the glory of God. There are times within our lives when our love would compel us to respond a certain way and do a certain thing and yet actually carrying that out and moving forward with it would be contrary to the will and glory of the Father. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that Jesus could have showed up at Lazarus’ bedside and healed Him and it might very well have been love which compelled and propelled Him to do so, however, acting upon that love would have been directly contrary to the will and glory of the Father. WHEN LOVE APPEARS TO BE CONTRARY TO THE WILL OF THE FATHER! WHEN LOVE APPEARS TO BE CONTRARY TO THE GLORY OF GOD! Oh I have to admit that in all the years I have read this passage of Scripture this is the first time I have seen this particular truth. I read the words which are found in this passage and am brought face to face with the tremendous and powerful truth that there are times when love—and perhaps not love itself but acting on that love—is directly contrary to the will and glory of the Father. Jesus could have showed up when He first received report that Lazarus whom He loved was sick and He could have healed Him then and there, however, to do so would have been directly contrary to the will and glory of the Father. Oh Jesus could have healed Lazarus of His sickness and Mary and Martha might have marveled and even worshipped Him, however, it would not have accomplished the glory of the Father nor the will of the Father.

 

            Stop and think about the fact that Jesus could have showed up at Lazarus’ bedside when He first received report that he was sick and He could have healed him there in the privacy of his room and in the privacy of their home, however, such a thing would not have accomplished the divine will of the Father. Oh it might have indeed brought healing to the physical body of Lazarus, however, it would have been entirely contrary to the divine will and glory of the Father. Jesus could have acted on His own initiative based on the love He had for Lazarus and his sisters and yet engaging in such an act would have been directly outside of the parameters of the divine will of the Father. Oh we must needs recognize and understand that Jesus might have wanted to show up at Lazarus’ bedside and healed him of whatever sickness was plaguing his body and yet doing so would have caused Him to act outside of that which the Father wanted to accomplish. With this being said we must needs acknowledge that there are those things which love would seek to accomplish and there are those things which the glory of God would accomplish. Please note that this isn’t to say that the glory of God is somehow independent of the love of God but that the two need to work in perfect harmony and union with each other. Jesus could have acted solely based on the love which He had for Lazarus and such a love would and could have compelled Him to heal His friend of whatever sickness was ravaging his physical body and yet operating out of that love would have been contrary to the glory of the Father—and not only the glory of the Father but also the divine will of the Father. Jesus could have acted independent and apart from the glory and will of the Father and rushed to where Lazarus was to heal His friend and yet I am convinced that by doing so He would not have given place to the glory of the Father nor to the will of the Father.

 

            WHEN LOVE AND GLORY SHOW UP! Oh the more I read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the fact that when Jesus finally did show up at the tomb of Lazarus after he had been dead for four days—not only would love show up but so also would the glory of God. Oh while Lazarus was still alive the love of Christ and the power of the Spirit could have showed up and brought healing into His physical body, however, both would have been absent the glory and will of the Father. What we find when Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus is the love of Christ, the power of the Spirit and the glory of the Father in perfect union and harmony with each other. I mention the power of the Spirit because when writing unto the saints which were at Rome the apostle Paul wrote about the same Spirit which raised Christ from death to life. Building upon this incredible truth we must needs recognize that Jesus could have showed up at Lazarus’ bedside while he was sick and healed him of the sickness which was plaguing his body, however, doing so would have entirely and altogether been absent the glory of God—and not only the glory of God but also the power of the Spirit. What’s more is that I would dare say if Jesus showed up at Lazarus’ bedside at the time of his sickness and healed him He would and could have succumbed to using His own power and His own divinity to accomplish His agenda, his will and His purposes. If there is one thing we must needs acknowledge and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that even though Jesus loved Lazarus that love needed to be submitted to the will of the Father and be filtered through it. Jesus might have loved this man and his sisters, however, He could not allow that love to propel Him to act independent of the divine will of the Father.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the fact that when Jesus showed up at the tomb of Lazarus after he had been dead for four days it wasn’t just love that showed up—love which was evidenced by the Jews’ own statement concerning how He loved him—but it was also the glory of God and the power of the Holy Spirit that showed up. Jesus would show up at the tomb after four days and would show up after Lazarus had died and been buried in that tomb and it was at that time when both the love of Christ and the glory of the Father was indeed manifested and evidenced there outside the tomb and in the presence of all those who were present on this particular days. The apostle John makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that on this particular occasion there were a number of Jews present at the tomb in addition to Mary and Martha and perhaps even the disciples of Jesus. There outside the tomb where Lazarus’ body was laid the love of Christ, the glory of God and the power of the Spirit were put on full display as they would all work in perfect union and harmony with each other. I have said it once and I will say it again that Jesus could have indeed showed up when He first received report that Lazarus was sick and he could have healed him, however, the glory of God was not to be manifested in healing but in resurrection. Oh there is something to be said here for more often than we think and even expect the glory of God to be made manifested in healing and yet what He ultimately desires to do is to manifest that glory in resurrection. What’s more is that the glory of God might even be destined to be manifested in resurrection after a number of days in the tomb have already passed. Jesus waited where he was a full two days before departing from that place and it would another two days before He would show up at the tomb of Lazarus. How incredible it is to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and consider the fact that love could have moved and operated in healing, however, that love would have operated independent of the glory of the Father.

 

If there is one thing we must needs realize when reading this passage of Scripture is that it is possible to act upon love and to even do that which love would compel and propel us to do, however, we must needs ask ourselves if our love is indeed submitted to the divine will of the Father. Jesus did indeed love Lazarus and his two sisters, however, that love was not enough for Him to simply depart from where He was and heal Lazarus. There are times when we expect the glory of God in healing and it is not the will of the Father to manifest His glory in healing but in resurrection after death. There are times when we look for and expect love to act in sickness and yet love is not permitted to act until death has taken place. Love could have stepped into the picture in the midst of the suffering of Jesus and yet that Love was restrained based on the divine will and glory of the Father. Love would be restrained and held back in the midst of the suffering of Jesus, however, that love would be put on full display and manifested at the tomb on the third day as the glory of God and the power of the Holy Spirit were present in raising Jesus up from death to life. This same reality is manifested within the life of Lazarus as love would show up at the tomb after four days and would show up together with the glory of the Father and the power of the Spirit. Love was not permitted and would not act in the midst of sickness but would however show up in the midst of death. It would be love that would show up at the tomb of Lazarus and outside that place where his body would be laid and would work in perfect harmony and union together with the glory of God and the power of the Spirit. Oh that we would recognize and understand this within our hearts and our spirits and recognize that there are times when love is restrained and when the glory of God is not and cannot be seen in healing but in resurrection. Moreover, there are times when the glory of God is not and cannot be seen in sickness but in death when the glory of God, the power of the Spirit and the love of Christ work in perfect harmony and union with each other.

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