This family is in crisis. Lazarus, head of the house is sick, near death, and these sisters are devastated because they could be left without a protector and provider … unless the Rescuer arrives in time.
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. John 11:5 ESV
Interestingly, the word used throughout this family-story is philon: friend. The love of a friend is different than the word Jesus used for this family; He used the word agape this one time. Agape love is a personal decision or commitment to another. It’s your will to show unselfish affection or tenderness to someone regardless of their response. John used agape to convey that Jesus decided to love this family and He expected nothing in return. Agape love never fails; that’s Jesus’s same attitude toward us because we’re also friends.
With that kind of love you’d expect Jesus’s immediate response to their needs, however, He waited two extra days before coming to their aid. In fact, here’s what He said,
… “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” John 11:14-15 ESV
I’m glad I wasn’t there? Are you kidding me? What kind of a friend is that? But Jesus saw the bigger picture; He knew it was about faith and glory. The experience of death and resurrection was due to His agape love for this family and to show the ‘glory of God’ through it (John 11:4). Let’s define glory.
As a verb it’s the demonstration of God’s character, His love displayed, and proof of His divinity. The root for doxa, glory, as a noun suggests an opinion of praise and honor based on value. We recognize the value of His magnificence, excellence, and highest worth.
Lazarus’s death undeniably proved the glory of Jesus; only God can raise the dead.
“Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 ESV
Lazarus’s family was experiencing firsthand the glory of God but to be honest, the circumstances looked bleak. Do you see where I’m going? We all have family crises at one time or another but the key is belief that He’ll appear even if it seems He’s two days late. He’s never late … and He’s never early.
This foreshadow of Jesus’ own death and resurrection is undoubtedly given to encourage and inspire us. The whole family and community are waiting at the tomb to see what He’ll do. Will Lazarus get a second chance at life? Will God glorify His Son, showing His infinite value, and come to the aid of this family?
Lazarus’s name means God is my help, that’s curious because it’s often, in the Old Testament (Eleazar), used for military aid; a fellow soldier or comrade would rush to the help of another. God rescued this family and He’ll do the same for yours: never late and never early.