JESUS has learned that his good friend Lazarus is very sick. A messenger from Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, has brought Jesus the news. The messenger came from Bethany, where Lazarus and his sisters live. The sisters believe that Jesus can heal their brother, even though they live far away on the other side of the Jordan River. They know that he has healed people from a distance before.—Matthew 8:5-13; John 11:1-3.
When the messenger reaches Jesus and tells him the sad news, Jesus doesn’t do anything about it. The Bible says: “He actually remained two days in the place where he was.” (John 11:6) Do you know why Jesus does not hurry to help Lazarus?—* Let us talk about this.
Jesus knows that Lazarus has died from his sickness. Therefore, he tells his apostles: “Let us go into Judea again.” They object: “Just lately the Judeans were seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus explains: “Lazarus our friend has gone to rest, but I am journeying there to awaken him from sleep.”
“Lord, if he has gone to rest,” the apostles reply, “he will get well.” Now Jesus explains: “Lazarus has died.” Then he says something that must have surprised them: “I rejoice on your account that I was not there . . . But let us go to him.”
Thomas speaks up courageously: ‘Let us go that we may die with Jesus.’ Thomas knows that enemies will again try to kill Jesus, and the apostles may be killed too. But they all go anyway. After two days or so, they arrive in Bethany, Lazarus’ hometown. It is about two miles from Jerusalem.—John 11:7-18.
Do you know why Jesus is glad that he did not arrive earlier?— Well, Jesus had resurrected other people before, but those individuals had been dead only a few hours when Jesus brought them back to life. (Luke 7:11-17, 22; 8:49-56) Lazarus’ body, though, has been in the tomb for days. No one can question that he really is dead!
When Lazarus’ sister Martha hears that Jesus is near Bethany, she runs out to meet him. “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died,” she says. “Your brother will rise,” Jesus assures her. Martha runs back and in secret tells her sister, Mary: “The Teacher is present and is calling you.”
Mary leaves right away to go to Jesus. The crowd, though, think that she is going to the tomb, so they follow. When Jesus sees Mary and the crowd with her weeping, he too gives way “to tears.” Soon they all arrive at the tomb, which is sealed with a big stone. Jesus commands: “Take the stone away.” But Martha objects, saying: “Lord, by now he must smell, for it is four days.”
The people obey Jesus and remove the stone. Then he prays, thanking God in advance for the power he knows God will give him to resurrect Lazarus. Jesus cries out “with a loud voice: ‘Lazarus, come on out!’” And Lazarus walks out, “bound with wrappings.” So Jesus commands: “Loose him and let him go.”—John 11:19-44.
Can you understand now why Jesus did not hurry?— He knew that by waiting he could give a better witness about his Father, Jehovah. And because he chose the best time, many became believers in God. (John 11:45) Can you see what we can learn from Jesus’ example?—
You too may be able to choose a good time to give a witness about the wonderful things God has done and yet will do. Perhaps you can speak to fellow students or to your teachers about them. Even during class, some youths have taken the opportunity to tell about the grand blessings that God’s Kingdom will bring to mankind. Of course, you cannot resurrect the dead, but you can help others to come to know the God who can and will bring our loved ones back to life.
If you are reading with a child, the dash provides a reminder to pause and encourage the child to express himself.