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Cover Art: When God Delays

When God Delays

John 11:1-16

The Death of Lazarus

11  There was a man named Lazarus who was sick. He lived in the town of Bethany, where Mary and her sister Martha lived. 2 (Mary is the same woman who put perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) Mary’s brother was Lazarus, the man who was now sick. 3 So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, “Lord, your dear friend Lazarus is sick.”
4 When Jesus heard this he said, “The end of this sickness will not be death. No, this sickness is for the glory of God. This has happened to bring glory to the Son of God.” 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days 7 and then said to his followers, “We should go back to Judea.”
8 They answered, “But Teacher, those Jews there tried to stone you to death. That was only a short time ago. Now you want to go back there?”
9 Jesus answered, “There are twelve hours of light in the day. Whoever walks in the day will not stumble and fall because they can see with the light from the sun. 10 But whoever walks at night will stumble because there is no light.”
11 Then Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus is now sleeping, but I am going there to wake him.”
12 The followers answered, “But, Lord, if he can sleep, he will get well.” 13 They thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was literally sleeping, but he really meant that Lazarus was dead.
14 So then Jesus said plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad I was not there. I am happy for you because now you will believe in me. We will go to him now.”
16 Then Thomas, the one called “Twin,” said to the other followers, “We will go too. We will die there with Jesus.”

Kids Color Me Bible Gospel of John – Chapter 50 – When God Delays
Why does God sometimes delay when we ask him for help?
Kids Color Me Bible Gospel of John – Chapter 50 – When God Delays

“When Jesus heard that Lazarus was dying, he waited to go because he wanted to do something more glorious,” says Josie, 11.

“It’s all part of God’s test to see if we have faith and believe in him,” says Kaiden, 11.

“God delays because we ask him for the wrong reasons,” says Mackenzie, 11.

“There are flowers in my flowerbed that only bloom in the spring. They all take time to bloom. Once they do, they are beautiful,” says Abby, 11.

“Maybe because we are not ready, like when I pray for a baby sister. We need time, and he knows that.” Mollie Mae, 6

“Because he cares for us and does not want us to get hurt, because the things we ask might be dangerous.” Nathalie, 7

“God has plans for all of our lives. He always gives us time. We do not know what he is going to do, but he does. He has time to think about the plans for us.” Jayden, 8

“God sometimes delays when we ask him for help because he is all-knowing. He wants us to be safe.” Jayden, 8

Kids Color Me Bible Gospel of John – Chapter 50 – When God Delays
Kids Color Me Bible Gospel of John – Chapter 50 – When God Delays
Kids Color Me Bible Gospel of John – Chapter 50 – When God Delays

11  There was a man named Lazarus who was sick. He lived in the town of Bethany, where Mary and her sister Martha lived. 2 (Mary is the same woman who put perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) Mary’s brother was Lazarus, the man who was now sick. 3 So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, “Lord, your dear friend Lazarus is sick.”
4 When Jesus heard this he said, “The end of this sickness will not be death. No, this sickness is for the glory of God. This has happened to bring glory to the Son of God.”

Jesus said that the sickness of his friend Lazarus would bring glory to himself, the Son of God. Have you ever heard a pastor or evangelist preach a sermon on how sickness can bring glory to God? Probably not.

Those who preach a health-and-wealth gospel will avoid teaching this text where Jesus says his friend’s sickness will glorify God. It is a false teaching to say that God is only glorified if you are healthy and wealthy. God can bless those who honor him with health and wealth, but he can also bless with sickness. Most health-and-wealth preachers are very concerned about their own health and wealth, not your health and wealth.

Remember what the Apostle Paul said about his thorn in the flesh? We don’t know exactly what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, but we do know that he begged God repeatedly to remove it.
God answered Paul: “My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by my power,” (II Cor. 12:9).

Have you ever thought of God working through your weakness? It’s so different from the way we normally think. It’s natural for us to think that God will work through our strengths.

Death is the greatest weakness. Apart from God’s grace, no one will escape it. We are all like Lazarus in this way. We cannot overcome death. However, Jesus did overcome death when he rose from the dead after being crucified for our sins. All who believe in him will enjoy his resurrection life forever.

5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days 7 and then said to his followers, “We should go back to Judea.”

This almost seems like a contradiction. Verse 5 tells us that Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus. But when Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days.

If Jesus really loved Lazarus and his sisters, why didn’t he rush to help Lazarus?

Jesus always listened to his heavenly Father first. He refused to let the needs of people determine his actions. Because Jesus listened to his Father, he knew what would bring God the most glory. Even if Jesus had arrived at Bethany to heal Lazarus before he died, this would not have brought as much glory to God as raising him from the dead.

Also, if Jesus had rushed to Lazarus when he heard about his sickness, he would have arrived only two days after his death. If Jesus had raised Lazarus only two days after he died, some might say that Lazarus didn’t really die. After four days, no one could think that Lazarus hadn’t died.

God hasn’t called you to meet every need. If God wants to meet a need through you, he will do it in a way that brings him the most glory. Make sure you hear God’s voice or sense his leading before rushing to help a friend or anyone else.

8 They answered, “But Teacher, those Jews there tried to stone you to death. That was only a short time ago. Now you want to go back there?”
9 Jesus answered, “There are twelve hours of light in the day. Whoever walks in the day will not stumble and fall because they can see with the light from the sun. 10 But whoever walks at night will stumble because there is no light.”

Jesus’ disciples knew that going near Jerusalem was dangerous for Jesus and themselves. God hasn’t called us to be foolish. Many times dangerous places should be avoided. However, there are times when God can call you to a dangerous place.

I was once invited by a pastor in Africa to visit his ministry in a very poor, slum area. Several people in our group were afraid to go there. I believe they missed a great blessing. With the pastor, I walked around in a slum where most people didn’t have running water, electricity or indoor plumbing. Many people struggled to get enough food to eat every day. In spite of this poverty, God was doing a great work in the midst of this slum through this dedicated pastor.

Before electric light bulbs, most people worked only during the day and slept at night. The sun, not electric lights, provided the light for people to work. If you were a farmer, you planted seeds, cultivated the earth and harvested your crops by day. In this way, our lives on earth are like the daylight hours. Even if we live to be 100, we’re here only for a short time.

As Christians, we must think of this life as the only time we will have to serve the Lord as ambassadors of heaven. We represent the Lord in a world that is full of evil, lies and darkness. We have only a short time to shine the glorious light of the grace gospel into the darkness of this world. God will reward his faithful ambassadors. Make the most of the short journey you are traveling through this world.

11 Then Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus is now sleeping, but I am going there to wake him.”
12 The followers answered, “But, Lord, if he can sleep, he will get well.” 13 They thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was literally sleeping, but he really meant that Lazarus was dead.

Sleep is a common way that New Testament writers referred to death for Christians (Acts 7:60, I Corinthians 15: 20 & 51, I Thessalonians 4:13). Because death has been defeated by Jesus’ resurrection, the death of our bodies is like going to sleep. It’s nothing at all to fear because we will be at home with the Lord when we leave this body.

The Apostle Paul wrote: “So I say that we have confidence. And we really want to be away from this body and be at home with the Lord,” (II Corinthians 5:8).

Who is afraid to go home? This world is not your home. When you are born again, heaven becomes your home. When you leave your body in death, you go home to be with the Lord. He will give you a new body that will never get sick or grow old (I Corinthians 15:42-44).

14 So then Jesus said plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad I was not there. I am happy for you because now you will believe in me. We will go to him now.”
16 Then Thomas, the one called “Twin,” said to the other followers, “We will go too. We will die there with Jesus.”

Jesus was not glad that his friend Lazarus had died. He even cried when he got there, (John 11:35). But he had joy from knowing that the faith of his disciples would be strengthened greatly when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus told the sister of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection. I am life,” (John 11:25). It’s one thing to hear Jesus say that. It’s another to see him raise a man from the dead who had been dead for four days.

Jesus knew that in a few days he would be crucified. After his resurrection, his disciples would carry the good news to the ends of the earth. Church tradition says that Thomas took the gospel to India. I’ve met several Indian Christians named Thomas. At Jesus’ first resurrection appearance before his disciples, Thomas was not there. Because he refused to believe that the other disciples had seen Jesus, Thomas is often called “Doubting Thomas.” But here, we see Thomas willing to die with Jesus.

I wonder how many Christians are willing to follow Jesus into a dangerous place where they could die.

Draw something to go with this headline: Jesus Raises Man Who Had Been Dead Four Days
Coloring Page: When God Delays