Daily D – John 11:5-6
Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was.
JOHN 11:5-6 (CSB)
Bob Goff’s book Love Does came out about ten years ago. If you have not read it or the two others Everybody Always and Dream Big, you need to toddle on over to Amazon and order them. You will be glad you did.
In light of these two verses, we could write an essay entitled, Love Doesn’t. If we speed-read this chapter, we might miss the apparent contradiction. Let’s check instant replay and slow things down a bit.
Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus.
he stayed on where he was for two more days.
What kind of love is this? Jesus had the hands of a healer. He healed many, many people. Dare we say it? He healed people he did not like or love as much as Martha, Mary, and Lazarus according to the natural way we tend to think of relationships. Why not heal Lazarus? Why let him die?
And what about what Jesus said in verse 4: “When he heard it, he said, ‘This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’”
Many a novelist starts in the middle of the story. There is a murder or a suicide on the first page. It takes us to the middle of the book to realize what the author has done. She takes us back in the first half and tells us what led up to this point. Then she shows us the results of this event in the second half of the book.
Jesus clearly said, “This sickness will not end in death.” He did not say, “Lazarus will not die.” Do not miss the glory of God. Do not overlook the placement of this story. Verse 2 says, “Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair.”
If this is your first time through the Gospels, particularly if this is your first time through John’s Gospel, you have no idea what he refers to in verse 2. You have to keep reading into chapter 12 to see what John refers to here.
Sometimes Love Does.
Sometimes Love Does Something Greater.
We want God to say Yes to our prayers. Sometimes he does. Sometimes he says No. Sometimes he says Not Yet. Sometimes he answers them better than we ask them. Sometimes he does something we can only call a Greater Yes.
Raising Lazarus was what you might call a Greater Yes.
To be clear, Jesus wasn’t showing off here. Instead, he was showing everyone the glory of God as it says in verse 4. What does this mean? It means to show everyone how good God is. Healing sick people is good. That’s a nice Yes. Raising someone from the dead is better. That is a Greater Yes.
The transition from John 11 to John 12-21 is significant. Everything John has written to this point leads up to the deepest, richest conversations and actions of Jesus. Many of our fondest statements from Jesus come from these chapters. We see his heart and mind, his will and ways, most clearly on these pages. We see his arrest and beating, his death and resurrection.
Look at all the red letters in chapters 12-17.
The Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series when Vin Scully was still their lead radio announcer. When the last out was recorded and the celebration began on the field, in the stands, and across the fanbase, Scully stood from his seat, walked over to the snack bar, and poured himself another drink. For over a minute, he did not say a word. He got out of the way and let the story tell itself.
Spoiler alert: Lazarus’ sickness did not end in death. He was raised from the dead to the glory of God. He was raised to let us know that as inevitable as was Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, death is not the end of the story.
Death is never the last word for those who believe in Jesus. Remember what John told us in 1:4?
“In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
Do you remember verse 5?
“That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.”
What is God’s Greater Yes for you? Since not even death can stop God’s purpose and plans, we can live confidently in the liminal space between what we pray and how God answers. We can smile on this side of God’s Greater Yes knowing that everyone will see how good God is in what he does next.
I will wait for God’s Greater Yes.
Our Father, you answer our prayers better than we pray them. You love us more completely than we have ever considered. Thank you that your Greater Yes is far better than the Yes we seek. This is glorious. Amen.
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Romans 2:4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
Acts 18:24-26 Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.