Pastor’s Corner – February 2015

Jim Mann

In John chapter 11, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother, Lazarus, was sick. John tells us, “Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days (John 11:6, NIV).” In the meantime, Lazarus died.

Let’s be honest. Do you ever get the feeling that God is a bit like a doddering old grandpa? When you need action fast…he’s happy to respond, but just a bit slow? Why did Jesus delay? If he had acted immediately, couldn’t he have prevented Lazarus’ death? Both Mary and Martha suggest as much (see 11:21, 32, 37).

It seems that Jesus showed up late. Or did he? Later in the New Testament, Peter tells us “God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness…(2 Peter 3:9,The Message).” Even though everyone thought Jesus was late, he wasn’t.

You see, funerals in the ancient Near East were a very big deal (and still are). It took time for word to travel. Once people heard of a death, family and friends would travel by foot from near and far. This would take time. At the home of the bereaved, women would be wailing. If you had the money, you’d even hire professional mourners. In order to give everyone a chance to pay their respects and to properly mourn, funerals would last for days. And it was at this point, at the crescendo of this sorrow, that Jesus showed up. Right on cue.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave, John tells us, “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him (John 11:45, NIV).”

He wasn’t late at all. He arrived at the perfect time to fulfill God’s plan in this situation: 1) God received glory as there were many there to witness; and 2) the disciples saw a man that had been dead for three days…whose body stunk (see 11:38)…raised from the dead. And they believed.

The famous preacher, D.L. Moody, says when Jesus showed up to Lazarus’ tomb, he did two important things. First, he called Lazarus by name, “Lazarus, come forth!” Otherwise all the dead in that tomb would have come to life! Secondly, he set Lazarus free, “Take off the grave clothes!” Unbind him, loose him. God wanted Lazarus free from his grave clothes.

Friend, when you call out to God in prayer, please know this. He will not arrive late—though it isn’t always our preferred timing. Though you may find yourself waiting, God has heard your prayers and knows you by name…he knows your story…he has heard your cries. When he shows up, he will set you free from your restraints.

Call on him today! I’ll see you in church.

Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch, which meets at the Robson clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Visit for more  information.