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.