Precious Time, Precious Love
John 11:1-44 NIV
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” (John 1:1-3)
Lazarus, Mary and Martha were siblings living in Bethany, in the region of Judea. They were close friends of Jesus and when Lazarus fell sick, the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” They knew Jesus would come to them even though his was far away, a few days journey from them. They were confident of Jesus’ love. Are we confident of his love?
Through the Spirit, Jesus knew that Lazarus had already died. But he told his disciples that they should head back to Judea.
“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world's light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (John 11:8-11)
The disciples tried to dissuade him as the Jews in Judea had attempted to stone Jesus just a few weeks before. Jesus responded by talking about “twelve hours of daylight”. The light is a metaphor for the presence of God and the 12 hours depict the limitation of time one has. We will not stumble in our work for God, but our time to do good is limited by our own short lives. We need not be afraid if we are doing God’s will.
Did Jesus have to go all the way to Judea, to the tomb of Lazarus to raise him from the dead? No, he didn’t have to, especially since the people in Judea wanted him dead. He could raise Lazarus from where he was. A snap of the finger, or a word, or a thought would have sufficed.
In another incident in Luke 7:2-10, Jesus went with some elders of the Jews to heal the servant of a Centurion. But it was the Centurion who asked Jesus to heal the servant from a distance because he felt unworthy to have Jesus come to his house. Jesus did as was requested and the servant was healed. It was well within Jesus’ capability.
So what did Jesus’ desire to see Lazarus, Mary and Martha tell us about him? He didn’t want to raise Lazarus from the dead remotely because he wanted to be there personally for them. His love for all of us is just as personal.
When Jesus arrived a few days later, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and the rest as they say, is history.
Jesus showed a combination of love and courage. His love spurred him to go to Judea for his friends, his courage emboldened him to go despite the danger.
How can we learn to be like Jesus in this area? Do we love one another personally? We can of course text, email or video-call each other. But do we also make the effort to be physically present, face to face with them? We can pray for anyone from anywhere, but do we also meet up with them in person to pray together? Nothing touches a person more than a visit to encourage and pray with them. We are naturally limited by the time we have, but the fact that we can dedicate some of that time to help one another makes it all the more special.
Jesus only spend three years of his life in the ministry before He sacrificed himself for us. Every minute of his limited time on earth was precious. That made his journey back to Judea just to see his friends all the more special. He is willing to do that because his love in indeed precious.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.