Say What?

John 11 recounts the story of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha who was sick to the point of death. Being good friends of Jesus and well acquainted with His ability to perform miracles, the two sisters sent for Jesus to come to their aid. But He didn't. Instead, He stayed where He was for a couple more days and then told His disciples that He was going to go visit the family. The disciples spoke amongst themselves, determining that Lazarus must have been all better, but Jesus quickly dispelled their belief with a single statement: 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.

 Does that verse strike anyone else as odd? The first two phrases just don't seem to go together. "Lazarus is dead, and I'm glad I was not there." Talk about sounding heartless. Good grief!

My grandmother is the most blunt and plain-spoken person I know. She says what she means and means what she says. She doesn't pull any punches. If she thinks you need to pull your pants up, she'll tell you. If she thinks your hair resembles that of an unemployed clown, she'll tell you that too. It's not that she's mean. She's just painstakingly honest. . . sometimes to the point of embarrassing those who are around her.

 But I must admit, in this case, Jesus makes my grandmother look reserved. "Lazarus is dead, and I'm glad I was not there." If the disciples weren't confused before, they were now. That is, if they do like the rest of us and only hear part of what the Lord says. Could it be that the bluntness of the statement caught them off guard to where they missed the part of why Jesus was glad? For their sakes. So that they might believe. Jesus was glad for another opportunity to prove Himself to the disciples.

It was love that compelled Him to go. Love for His disciples. Love for Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Love for the unnamed mourners He would find at the tomb. Yes, His love compelled Him to go, just as it compelled Him to come to earth for the sake of raising us from our death in trespasses and sins. He didn't have to come. He could have let us remain in our sins just as He could have let Lazarus remain in the grave. He didn't have to leave the splendor of Heaven. But He loved us too much to stay away. And so He came, destined to be the sacrifice for our sins so that we could be raised in newness of life. Oh, what love!