He said it.
They didn’t ask for him to say it. He said it on his own will.
“This sickness will not end in death,” (Jn 11:4).
But Lazarus died.
Worse they knew Jesus was close enough to come sooner and could’ve prevented his death. But Jesus didn’t act. And now their beloved brother was dead. Even when Jesus had said, “This sickness will not end in death.”
It was a bitter pill to swallow.
When you’ve asked. You’ve received the Word of the Lord. And the very opposite happens.
When Jesus finally gets there Martha lets it be known.
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” (v. 21). Then she tries to soften the situation since it’s her friend. “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
And there’s no doubt that this doesn’t mean she believes. In fact, Jesus has to continue to provoke her faith.
This time Mary is no different.
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 32).
Even the Jews had the same thought. “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (v. 37).
“Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled,” (v. 33).
“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb,” (v. 38).
They had poured out their heart with an “if” question. Both of them.
“If you had been here, our brother would not have died.”
And Jesus, responded with an “if” question.
“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (v. 40).
We’ve all been at this moment of crisis. Wondering where God was and why he didn’t intervene. Even when we thought he had said he was going to intervene. It’s truly the dark night of the soul. Will we keep believing God is good? Will we keep believing that he cares for us? Will we try to kill off hope so we’re not crushed the next time, or continue to nurture hope?
For Lazarus, Martha and Mary their hope was restored. Lazarus was raised from the dead. And while they still tried to kill him, he apparently lived a couple more years. Restored to them in a great miracle.
But miracles don’t always look the same. People we love get sick and die. Even when we pray fervently to the contrary. Miracles don’t always transpire like we want them. But the truth remains the same.
If we believe we will see the glory of God.
It’s just that it doesn’t always look like how we want it to look like.
And that’s Ok. Because somehow in the end I think God’s redemption of our sorrows will be greater than we understand. Even if that redemption only takes place in heaven.