Why Our Lord Tarries

Trinity Baptist Church
Barrett Holloway

10-08-97

 

Jn 11-5,6 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where He was.

What do you think the reaction of Martha and Mary was when they heard that Jesus made no attempt to get to where they were and relieve them of the desperate condition they were in? It must have been a trying time for them for they had hope that Jesus would make every possible effort to come and heal their family member and the news of His delay must have left them somewhat despondent, anxious, and even perplexed. How do you think they dealt with the reality of His love to them and yet when He hears the news of Lazarus’s sickness, there is an intentional and deliberate delay on His part to accommodate their desires?

If they were as we find ourselves at times, not instantly gratified with the providing us our desires, then they became distrustful of His love, power, goodness, and faithfulness. There is absolutely no way one can interpret the delay of Christ as actions of love. Often His providence confuses us with the promises He has made and our mentality of that which we think He ought to do. His ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours that logic and common reasoning can never relate the promises and providence. We are so bound by carnal reasoning and viewing things from natural senses that we rarely rise to interpret the actions of Christ in the spiritual realm. This is why the apostle taught us to, “cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” The carnal mind of man always maps out for itself a way in which we think God ought to work and a way in which we can do things which will be accepted by God and bring God into an obligation to do things our way. Once we see that our Lord does not oblige us then doubts arise, confusion sets in, and if we continue in this course, depression follows. We teach and say that God is sovereign but when it comes down to where we live, let our Lord delay a little longer than we anticipated and not answer our prayers as soon as we desired, then our thinking becomes all carnal and thoughts run across our mind concerning the Lord and His work which should never have been entertained.

Since the Lord is sovereign in all His works, then we must believe that whatever comes our way or is with-held from us is for our good and from the hands of a righteous and merciful Father. “All things work together for good…” therefore, one concludes that His delay in this incident was for the good of Martha, Mary, Lazarus, and the church then and now. What are some lessons that might be drawn from this passage which would be of help to us today?

1. God has a purpose for His delays and they are holy, wise, and beneficial for His children.

The two sisters may not perceive this immediately but they must rest in this truth and with contentment wait upon Him for His time to work. When our Lord tarries, we can rest assured that His purpose is for our good and that whatever the delay, it is by His choice and there is no force in heaven or upon Earth that can hinder when He determines to work. The problems we encounter during His delay are all in our minds and arise from the old man’s vain imaginations, reasonings, and what we call common sense but these are no problems to our sovereign Lord. If Joseph must wait in an Egyptian jail, He does so only because this is designed by His merciful Father and this is the best place he can be at that time. Job 23:14 For He performeth the thing that is appointed for me…”

Hab 2:3 …though it (vision) tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Any delays between the vision being received and it coming is only in our minds and certainly not in God’s for He has never been one second late to provide for His those things which He has promised. How can He who gave His only Son, not also freely give us all things and these at the exact time of need? It is a difficult thing for one to reject his own judgment and notions and wait upon the Lord until His purposes are made clear.

2. During this time of delay, much can be learned of self and our Lord.

There is much in our hearts hidden that even the most mature and spiritual saint is unaware and it is during these times of delay that afford us much opportunity of searching. Was Martha and Mary’s reason for getting the news to Christ solely for their own benefit and that of their brother? Was there a desire that Christ might be glorified in healing Lazarus? Did they desire the glory of Christ so that they could honestly say to the Lord, “Thy will be done” even if it meant they must bury their brother? As we wait upon the Lord for the answer of our prayers, the time could be used wisely in a searching of our hearts as to the motive of the request we have made.

Sometimes the Lord waits that it might have a cleansing effect upon the ones seeking Him. As we struggle with unanswered prayers, the first thing that probally pops into our head is the question of sin. ‘Has He delayed in granting the request of my heart because there is unconfessed sin in my life?’ An honest and sincere seeking of Christ will produce this cleansing effect because this frame of heart in seeking Him will invite the Holy Spirit to make manifest any hidden sins. This time gives one the opportunity of discovering their true state and the graces that are within or those that are missing. It also has a purging effect as it weans us from the world and self. Self must be dethroned in the hearts of any person who would be a true servant of Christ which rids us of all selfish motives or desires and leaves us with but one desire; MY LORD MUST BE GLORIFIED, I AM EXPENDABLE — NOT HIS GLORY.

Whatever Martha did during this time we cannot be certain but a glorious declaration can be heard at the end of her conversation with Jesus. vs. 27. “Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God…” His delay is for a holy, wise, and good reason and who would not be grateful for such a time, if at the end we had a clearer view of God through the face of Jesus Christ? Look at the length of the Lord’s delay in the lives of David or Joseph, then consider the heights to which they were raised because of submission to God and His providence.

3. His delay will last only as long as is necessary to accomplish His purpose.

Job 23:14 For He performeth the thing that is appointed for me…” Do not we sometimes prolong this period by kicking against the pricks or struggling against the yoke which is layed upon our necks? Whatever the purposes of God might be for us in this life, we may never fully understand but we can rest assured they are for our good and His glory. Let us rest in this fact and bear the yoke quietly for He has never ask of us anything without giving us sufficient grace to see us through. Whatever trial might come through His delay, we have many and exceeding precious promises of His present help and strength and of His never, never leaving or forsaking us. The old man is not up to waiting upon the Lord but wants instant gratification of all desires and to oft we try to fool ourselves by calling carnal desires spiritual. We understand the long-term goal of the Lord is to have all His sons looking like His only begotten and this shall come to pass, but now there should be a realization of Jesus in every detail and aspect of our earthly lives. When this realization comes depends upon us more than we want to think. No, I would in no way take from the Lord’s absolute sovereignty in all matters, but let me not forget nor neglect my responsibilities. One thing is certain; we will bless the Lord through out eternity for all His delays, trials, and crosses which He places upon us. Until then reflect much on His mercy, faithfulness, wisdom, goodness, and Fatherly pity towards all His children. Oh, to think, speak, and act as Chrsit would in every situation which arrives. Unto Him be glory in the Church now and forever. amen.