I have been thinking a lot about time lately, about how in many ways time is complex and yet in others, very simple. It passes without any input from us and yet we spend so much of the time we have in trying to control it. Sometimes it seems to fly and at others, to crawl. We have scientists telling us that our very perception of time actually causes it to change. We live in interesting times and sometimes we think that ours is the most important time that there is. As if nothing of importance happened before we came along. As if God Himself has forgotten about us and abandoned us because in our minds things are so very bad that He must not care.
I was reminded of the story of Lazarus this morning. I was listening to music and one of my favorites began playing. It is one that is sometimes sung by my friend and church sister, Keva, who has a beautiful voice. It is about the sorrow of Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, when Jesus didn’t arrive while Lazarus was still alive. How sad they must have felt. Perhaps they even felt anger and betrayal, knowing that Jesus could have saved him.
And yet Jesus used this time to teach all the rest of us a story that was so much bigger that the death of a beloved brother and friend. He taught of the resurrection from physical death, but He also taught of the irrelevance of time in His actions. The time in the tomb meant nothing to Lazarus. It meant a great deal and a wonderful lesson to the rest of us.
Whatever we want is limited by our time, but time has no limits on God. And He isn’t bound by our rules or desires. We may look at the story of Lazarus and question if Jesus didn’t care enough to get there sooner, perhaps some may even question if He was cold in His use of this as a lesson to all of those present, as well as the rest of us who believe in Him. And yet this was perhaps one of His greatest lessons and gifts to the world. With the resurrection of Lazarus He not only gave us a foretelling of His own death and resurrection, He gave us confirmation of the reality of resurrection and the knowledge that we too, could have the opportunity that Lazarus had.
If Jesus had come earlier, while Lazarus was still alive, no one would have had the reassurance that He too would be resurrected. Our time is not God’s time! His plan is working along just fine and each of us is playing our part. We make the choices everyday on what to do with our time, perhaps we spend too much time worrying about whether God is listening or whether He even hears us. Whether Jesus is going to hurry and save us from ourselves. Perhaps in this time of celebrating His birth, we should spend our time giving thanks for the sacrifice that He gave. He keeps His promise and Jesus will return at the time that His Father wishes.
King James Version (KJV)
11 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
For as the body is one and has many members, but all members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
For in fact the body is not one member but many.
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?
And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be smelling?
But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
But not indeed there are many members, yet one body.
And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have not need of you.”
No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.
And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on thses we bestow greater honor, and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,
but our presentable parts have no need. But God compose the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,
that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?
Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do Your seek? or, “Why are Your talking with her?”
The woman then left her water-pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men,
“Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
In the meantime His disciples urged Him saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for the harvest!
“And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
“For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’
“I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
- Christ Witnesses to the Woman at the Well John 4:1-26 (thechristiangazette.wordpress.com)
And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren.
For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain for them, that we may eat and live.”
There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.”
There were also those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards.
“Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are brought into slavery already. It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.
And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words.
And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?” They they were silenced and found nothing to say.
Then I said, “What are you doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?”
“I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury!
“Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them.”
So they said, “We will restore it, and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.” Then I called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.
Then I shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the congregation said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord. Then the people did according to this promise.
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do, unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless on is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
“The wind blows where it wished, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher if Israel, and do not know these things?
“Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.
“If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things.
“No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
“that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
“For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”