O Jesus, Lord of Life, give us grace to believe in You and to love You. Amen.
Text: John 11:1-13
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
“Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” What beautiful words, words of pain, and yet more of confidence and trust. We should also speak to the Lord this way about our loved ones who are sick. Tell Him your worry with heartfelt confidence in His power and grace. “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” They didn’t send many words; with these few words they had entrusted it all to Him.
“This sickness is not unto death.” What beautiful and glorious words in reply! These too are fitting for the sicknesses of all of Jesus’ friends. But meanwhile Lazarus died. What were they to think about Jesus then, and what thoughts must have crossed their minds! Because Jesus “loved them,” He waited two days, so that Lazarus might die and be buried. Because He loves us, He waits and lets us think hard thoughts, worry and die; but all for life and salvation. “Our friend Lazarus sleeps,” He says.
A believing African woman was asked if she had recently seen missionary Kitchen. “A fever came upon him,” she answered, “he said: ‘I am going to God’ and he fell asleep.” – “O is Kitchen dead?” – “Dead, sir? No, Father Kitchen did not die; he fell asleep and is sleeping, till the voice of God’s Son wakes him. Father Kitchen isn’t dead, but sleeping.” It is an echo of the Lord’s words: “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” – Now, when Lazarus was already in the grave, it was the “day” for Jesus to go to Judea.
Dear friend, shouldn’t we love Him? For none of your sickness is ever unto death, but for the glory of God and His Son. He will test you with cares, and stay away longer than you can understand, even let you collapse and die, but He does it so that all of sin and death in you can be destroyed. He will easily wake you, and boldly you shall arise. Let us simply be able to say in truth about you: “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
Lord Jesus, I know You love us all with fervent desire to save us. But give me grace to love You, so that You can say of me: “My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (Joh 14:23). Come into our hearts and our homes, Lord of Life, so that we can say to You in our own sickness and that of our loved ones: “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick,” and hear Your answer: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Amen.
My grave a peaceful rest becomes;
My body lies in silence;
I shall arise when judgment comes,
This is my sure reliance;
To live with God In heav’n’s abode
Evil forever leaving!
The door shall close Whene’er God choose,
His glory then revealing.
And so I die most peacefully;
I fear no more distressing.
Christ is my life most certainly,
And death becomes a blessing.
Though here I die, There live shall I,
My true life there beginning,
Where joy inspires By angel choirs,
In glory never dimming.
Pedersen: Naar jeg betænker Tid og Stund: L 530:6-7 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Mit Haab og Trøst (LHy 428) or Was mein Gott will (ELH 261); alternate hymn: I know of a sleep ELH 525:1.7