The Timing of the Spectacular
Yesterday, Jim wrote that a deeper purpose was fulfilled in Jesus allowing Lazarus to die rather than actually healing him before death. After all, it is much more amazing and spectacular to raise a dead man than it is to heal someone who is sick. However, there is more to the timing of Jesus in that story than meets the eye.
When Jesus had arrived at Bethany and went to the tomb, Lazarus had already been dead for four days. Lazarus's sister, Martha, verifies this for us.
“Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” John 11:39 (NIV)
Was four days just a random amount of time that Jesus chose to wait? Was it haphazard or accidental? No, it was strategic timing.
The Dake Annotated Reference Bible notes that according to Jewish teachings of that day, the Jews believed that the spirit of a deceased man wandered about his tomb for the first three days after death, looking for an opportunity to return to the body. Those three days were called "days of weeping." On the fourth day, when the body actually began to decompose, they believed that the spirit then left the grave permanently. Had Jesus arrived even one day earlier, it would not have been as awe-inspiring to the Jews. They may have even discounted Jesus' role in the resurrection entirely and attributed it to the spirit of Lazarus finding a way to inhabit his body once again. However, since Jesus raised Lazarus on the fourth day, when all hope was gone, it was viewed as a truly miraculous act. It showed that Jesus was indeed the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25-26).
Sometimes it seems like God is taking too long to bring our breakthrough, but He has His reasons for the way He does things. He does not tell us His reasons for everything and He does not always let us know when to expect our miracle. After all, if we knew all the details, then there would be no reason to use faith. God's timing is strategic. He sees the big picture and He has it all worked out. Just when it looks the worst, know that is when God is at His best. And when everything is manifested and your answer has arrived, it will be a spectacular and amazing thing, clearly showing that God is good and that He is a miracle-working God.