Your brother will rise again. John 11:23
As a visitor to a small West African town, my American pastor made sure to arrive on time for a 10 a.m. Sunday service. Inside the humble sanctuary, however, he found the room empty. So he waited. One hour. Two hours. Finally, about 12:30 p.m., when the local pastor arrived after his long walk there—followed by some choir members and a gathering of friendly town people—the service began “in the fullness of time,” as my pastor later said. “The Spirit welcomed us, and God wasn’t late.” My pastor understood the culture was different here for its own good reasons.
Time seems relative, but God’s perfect, on-time nature is affirmed throughout the Scriptures. Thus, after Lazarus got sick and died, Jesus arrived four days later, with Lazarus’ sisters asking why. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). We may think the same, wondering why God doesn’t hurry to fix our problems. Better instead to wait by faith for His answers and power.
As theologian Howard Thurman wrote, “We wait, our Father, until at last something of thy strength becomes our strength, something of thy heart becomes our heart, something of thy forgiveness becomes our forgiveness. We wait, O God, we wait.” Then, as with Lazarus, when God responds, we’re miraculously blessed by what wasn’t, after all, a delay.
What are you waiting for God to do or provide on your behalf? How can you wait by faith?
For You, Father, I wait. Grant me Your strength and faithful hope in my waiting.
Jewish customs mandated a corpse be buried within twenty-four hours of death. In John 11, we’re told that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days when Jesus arrived (vv. 17, 39) to show the magnitude of the miracle. This wasn’t an emergency situation where a person in cardiac arrest was successfully resuscitated. Lazarus was well past the timeframe for this. Jesus had previously raised two other dead persons (Luke 7:11–17; 8:49–56), but these resurrections took place before decomposition of the bodies had begun. According to rabbinic beliefs, the spirit of the deceased hovers around the body for three days in the hope of reuniting with it. But the spirit will finally leave when the body has decomposed. This would have been the case for Lazarus: “By this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days” (John 11:39).