5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.
Jesus would deal with Lazarus’ death in His own time and place.
Now Jesus loved [agapao] Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
The word for “loved” here is not the Greek word for relationship or friendship love (phileo), giving a lie to the Mormon claim that Martha and Mary were Jesus’ wives. The Greek word is agapao, sacrificial love, a love that commits to another person regardless of relationship. a love that commits to another person regardless of relationship.
Jesus loved each of His three friends at Bethany sacrificially. He was not indifferent to Lazarus or his sisters. He loved them even in God’s glorification through Lazarus’ death and resurrection (v. 4). He empathized deeply with their pain. Circumstance does not determine whether God loves us or not.
The “so” here is the word therefore. This “so” harks back to God’s glory in verse 4. Jesus did not make His journey on any other consideration than the Father’s glory and will. He did not allow Himself to be coerced by circumstance, not even by His closest friends. This is especially the case here because Jesus was going to Jerusalem to die, the culmination of His mission.
when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.
Although Jesus platonically loved the two sisters, He waited two days before going to visit them. He was many miles away from Bethany and was now on the east side of the Jordan River. Lazarus was probably dead by this time. He had already been dead for four days when Jesus arrived in Bethany (Jn 11:17, 39).
The delay of going to Bethany ensured that Lazarus had been dead long enough so that no one could claim that he was not truly dead. The resurrection of someone who was without question dead confirmed the faith of those who saw it.
Love and suffering are not incompatible.
The Father’s love for His Son was no guarantee that He would shelter His only begotten from pain and problems. He permitted His Son to go to the cross. God’s love often directs us into situations that perplex our souls, where we are unable to understand His purpose.
God loves us unconditionally. He loves us whether we recognize it or not. He insists on loving us. He loves us faithfully. We cannot stop the sun from shining, but we can stay in the dark. We can reject God’s love, but He will love us nevertheless.
Those who would depict Jesus as calloused for not going to Lazarus’ aid immediately but instead carrying out His own purposes miss Jesus’ whole point. He returned later to demonstrate that He could raise Lazarus from the dead. The issue here is not cruelty but constructive instruction and edification. We need to learn the lesson of waiting on God and His timetable.
Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from dying. He chose to allow some to suffer. Comfort is not the highest value to our Lord. The greatest value is the glory of the Father and the Son. Personal sympathy never sidetracked Jesus from His mission. The Father’s purpose for Him was far above friendship.