Scripture Text: John 11:11, 17-21, 31-32 Title: Too Late!

Question of the Day: What can we learn from the Lord’s timing in whatever He does through us?

David Virts

As we study the life of Jesus we can learn a lot about His precision in timing for each thing that He did. Was he deliberate in what He did when He did it, or was His haphazard and missed getting to a miracle on time? For example: He got to the wedding and waited to turn the water into wine right up to the time when the family would have been greatly embarrassed because they had run out of wine at a time of celebration; when He went to heal the centurion’s servant, He paused to heal the woman who had an “issue of blood” that had been with her for years, and then He moved on; in today’s text He lingered for two days before He went to see His good friend who was deathly ill, and by the time He got there, He found out that Lazarus had been dead for four days. So was He always late and running behind?

Here is today’s text: “After He said those things, they He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, but I am going to wake him up.’ 17 When Jesus came to Bethany (which was about two miles from Jerusalem), He discovered that Lazarus had been buried four days ago. Many of the Jews had come to Mary and Martha to comfort them with the loss of their brother, but Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming to them, went out to meet Him, but Mary stayed in the house. When Martha got to Jesus she exploded saying to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had just come earlier, by brother wouldn’t have died! But even now I know that whatever you ask of God the Father, He will give to You.’ 31The people who were in the house with Mary comforting her, when they saw her quickly get up and leave, they followed her and said, ‘She is going to the tomb to weep.’ Then when Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell down at His feet and said to Him, ‘Lord, if You had only been here, my brother wouldn’t have died!’”

John recorded that many Jews came to comfort them after their brother’s death. Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus had arrived, went out to meet Him; however Mary stayed in the house with the Jews, guests, and mourners. What a contrast we have between Mary and Martha: Martha was a “take charge” type person who stomped out to confront Jesus and ask Him where He had been when they needed Him most. So what was Jesus’ explanation for being so late when His dear friend was deathly sick? Instead of correcting Martha, or instead of explaining to her why He was so late, Jesus began to discussion the resurrection and how and when people would be raised back to life.

One thing we can learn here is this: don’t get in a theological discussion with the Master! Mary reacted quite differently; did she wonder why Jesus took so long getting there? Yes, but Mary was the quiet, reflective type, who loved sitting at Jesus’ feet and adore the Lord. The words Martha and Mary used when they first came to Jesus are identical: “Lord, if You had just come earlier, by brother wouldn’t have died!” ; but it says that Mary waited to be summoned by the Lord and then had a very different reaction when she came to Jesus: she fell down at His feet and worshiped Him and then said her words, while Martha seemed to just march right up to the Lord and demand of Him what took Him so long to get there when they needed Him most. As we walk with the Lord we find out that He is never late. Our timetable is not His, and it is us who must adapt to His timetable.

The point is this: when resurrection power is needed, it is never too late for our Lord. We all mourn the loss of a loved one or a close friend or a young child and wonder whatever reason God must have for His timing in taking them away at a time that we think is “early in life” from our perspective. One thing is for sure: when we get to heaven and see things from God’s perspective, it will all make perfect sense because His resurrection power—when needed—is never too late. In this text Jesus taught us that since He has “the keys of death”, He is never too late!

Prayer: Lord, we get frustrated when things happen and it looks like You are late—again, but then as we look at the rest of Scripture we get the perspective of others who have had to wait so long—like Abraham and Sarah waiting for the promised child for many years—and when the promise finally is fulfilled, it brings great joy and happiness to our soul. Teach us the patience of waiting for Your perfect timing in every phase of our lives—especially when we need Your power and Your help in getting through a frustrating crisis. Amen!