So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. John 11:6
I have heard many messages regarding this passage and interpretations of why when Jesus’ friend Lazarus was sick He did not rush to Lazarus to heal him. Messages that ultimately point to the miraculous resurrection and glory that it brought to God. However, as I read those words “He stayed.” those words lept off the page. Lately, its the little words, and not the overall story that have been speaking to me in my quiet time.
Knowing the full story, it is easy to see He stayed because He loved His friends enough to let them feel the short term pain to experience the blessing He had for them. He stayed because there was something the others needed to learn. He stayed because others needed to see His plan to bring glory to the Lord. Lazarus was raised from the dead because He stayed.
Jesus knew exactly what would happen to Lazarus.
But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” John 11:11-15
He knew that Mary and Martha would grieve.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. John 11:33
He knew that the people would gather for the rituals that surround death.
“I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” John 11:42
He knew they would question why He did not act sooner.
But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” John 11:37
He knew all that would happen because while He was fully man; He was fully God. He grieved their pain as man. He stayed as God.
There are times in my life where I have asked “Lord, where are you?” Times I have looked back and said, like Mary and Martha, “If only you had been here.” As I gain the perspective of reflection on those moments, I can see He stayed for my benefit. He knew what would need to transpire for me to grow. He stayed so I would not look to Him to shortcut the process. He stayed because He knew I would the need the lesson from that moment to carry me in the season of life. He knew the lessons I would need to learn that might seem painful in the moment but would carry me forward in His will for my life.
He stayed because He knew the path I would walk. He knew the people who would cross my path that I could teach. He stayed so that others could learn from me and not have to walk the path of pain or walk on it as long.
He stayed so that I would recognize His hand on my life when I cross the paths of others walking where I walked. He stayed because the only thing I can do is give Him glory. I know, “There but the grace of God go I.” I see it with every hurting person He brings across my path. I can see that, because He stayed.
I see the miracles that have been brought about in my life because He stayed. No, I haven’t seen the dead raised back to life (although I have met a few people who have experienced that miracle), but I have seen Him resurrect dead things in my life. I have experienced reconciliation in a broken marriage, family relationships restored in perfect timing. I have been completely broken and felt destroyed, and yet I can see He stayed with me through it all. He walked alongside of me. And those times when I wondered where He was, He stayed silent knowing how things would work out for God’s glory.
There are times, in the moment, where we are left wondering where the Lord is. We can rest confidently that He has never left us. He stayed. We can trust that if He is not acting on our behalf in the moment, that He stayed quiet for God’s glory.