Wait for it

Today’s Reading John 11

As we are preparing for the feast of thanks this week throughout the city, state, and nation here at my house the children are asking “When is it Christmas?”  This is somewhat due to the Christmas carols playing on the radio and television.  Somewhat due to the commercials of winter themed items and toys.  Somewhat due to the several dozen of catalogs that come to the house daily.  But the true questions started to come last Thursday when several inches of snow covered the streets, cars, and everything.  They are waiting on the coming of Christmas, but they want it to be here NOW.   I know that many parents are experiencing this anticipation and have been for several weeks post-Halloween.  While reading and reflecting on the chapter for today, I find peace in the waiting on Christ.  In Chapter 11 we can find several tokens of peace in waiting:  Waiting can be challenging, waiting can be productive, waiting allows God’s glory to be revealed.


In John 11, we have a truly significant story: The Resurrection of Lazarus.  In the beginning of the chapter, John tells us that Lazarus is sick. John also tells us the connection of the family with Jesus.  John tells us in Chapter 11, the woman whom loved Jesus an anointed him for his passion is the same Mary, that is the sister of Lazarus.  The sisters sent word to Jesus and he acknowledged the sickness, but didn’t rush to his friend’s immediate rescue.  Jesus stays in the place for 2 additional days.  Then he began his return to see his friend. When he arrived at the town of Bethany, Martha first and then Mary greets him.  The body of Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days.  When Jesus saw the family and the tomb, Jesus wept. Then Jesus instructed the tomb to be opened and he summoned Lazarus out of the tomb.  Lazarus was restored and able to be with Jesus and his family during the coming Passover.


John makes several references to the timing of this sickness, burial and resurrection to show significance of human timing and Divine timing.   1.) Lazarus is sick: This is not shown with a reference time.  We do not know the time span that Lazarus has been ill before his death i.e., one day, three weeks, a couple of months, we know that he is close to death and that Martha and Mary are expecting a miracle of health and healing.  2.) Once Jesus is informed of the sickness, he stays for 2 additional days.  Jesus knows outcome of the illness, before it has been completed.  He knows that this illness will result in death.  He knows the circumstances that we are in before we are experiences these situations.  3.) When he arrives Lazarus has been in the tomb for 4 days.  This passage of time is not shown either. We know that Jesus was summoned, he stayed where he was for an additional 2 days, but we do not know how long the journey was for him to get to Bethany.  We know that Lazarus was sick, died, had a funeral, was buried in a tomb, and now 4 days plus Jesus comes to Bethany.

The significance of the four days is profound because of the ancient traditions and the area of the world this takes place.  The regular funeral rites of the ancient Jewish people are to bury the body with in the 24 hours of the death.  Once the body is buried, the decomposition of the body in this region happens rapidly.  Due to the inability to embalm or prepare the body as in modern times, the body would start to decompose within 2 days of being buried.  The entire body would change and the figure that once was the person that as buried no longer resembled the living body.  Lazarus was dead for 4 days, and Jesus was either visiting on day 4 or 5, which means that he was completely dead and only the grace and glory of God would be able to restore him.   The full picture of Lazarus is seen after his resurrection while he is eating with Jesus, Mary, Martha, and the apostles for Passover.  Lazarus is not a half-living individual, but a fully functional person.  Christ has given life to the dead, and will fully restore all of the vitality and function to the decomposed body that once was, Christ is the resurrection and the life.


In this chapter we find lessons in waiting:

  • Waiting is a challenge and can be difficult. – Ask anyone that is waiting of results of classroom examinations, blood test, or diagnostic exams.  This can be some of the most terrify and difficult times that you experience.
  • Waiting can be productive. – In many instances waiting is the process that we can anticipate and reflect on something exciting.  Examples are waiting for the bread to rise after kneading or waiting for the flower to blossom after the long winter.  These are times that new growth and expectations blossom our spirit and our resolve.
  • Waiting to allow God’s Glory to be revealed. – In the chapter Jesus makes mention that he could have saved his friend several times over, but the ultimate purpose was not to give Jesus glory, but to give God the glory not only over health and sickness, but also over undeniable death.He has the final say.



Thank you for not being on human time, but on your on time.  Thank you for being over all things in heaven and earth.  We praise you that you created all things, including life and time and you are the keeper of all things.  Lord, allow us to be in tune with you and allow us to wait on you for your will and glory to be shown. Amen