Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Does God Really Love Us?

John 11:3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” (Love = tender affection of a friend)
John 11:5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. (Love = self-sacrificing devotion)
John 11:5 These things He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." (Friend= tender affection)
John 11:36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” (Love = tender affection of a friend)

Circumstances of Life
Often things happen in our lives that cause us to question the love of God.  Since we don’t think like God thinks, it is easy for Satan to come along in a time of trial and cast his fiery darts of doubt at us.  We then doubt our beliefs and believe our doubts and Satan has us discouraged and possibly defeated.  Satan’s lie is that that God doesn’t really love us when things are not working the way we would have them work.  But God does love his friends and the end of the story will always prove His love.  That seems to be the lesson in this story about Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Love in the New Testament is described by two different Greek words.  There is a third word that means natural affection.  A  form of the word is used twice and we will not concern ourselves with that word just now.  The other two words seem to be used in such a way that we can understand the love of God in all of its facets.  The word for passionate love that our society tends to emphasize as if it were true love, is not used in the New Testament at all.  What I find interesting is that Lazarus and his sisters were loved both in the sense of the tender affection of a friend and in the sense of self-sacrificing devotional love.  Our English language is somewhat “sloppy” when it comes to defining love.  The Greek was a lot more precise.  So Lazarus was a friend of the Lord, and the Lord was willing to make sacrifices for him.  That is implied in the use of these two words in this story.

The Fiery Dart
Mary and Martha knew that the Lord was Lazarus’ friend.  They also knew that the Lord healed.  Naturally they would assume that he would want to heal his friend.  But when they sent to the Lord to have him come and heal Lazarus, he stayed where he was for two more days.  As we read the story, it is obvious that Martha, then Mary, and then the Jews all believed that the Lord could have healed Lazarus.  After all, he had opened the eyes of the blind.  However, when someone is sick we want the ambulance to come as quickly as possible because hope exists while people are living, not after they die.  But the Lord lingers.  Is He really Lazarus’ friend?  Does He really want the best for all three in this family?  Yes!  However, He has to cause them sorrow in order to show them that He not only has the power to heal, he has the power to raise from the dead.  So now we all know that that hope does not end at the grave.  That is just the beginning of a new phase of life for the believer in Christ Who is the resurrection and the life. 

The Lord waited a total a four days before raising Lazarus so that there would be no doubt that Lazarus was really dead and not just unconscious.  Then He raised Him from the dead.  When we get to the end of the story, was Satan’s lie real?  No!  The Lord was Lazarus’s friend.  He did have charity toward the whole family.  He did bring joy out of sorrow.  Satan’s lie that the Lord didn’t really care was obviously not true.

Because the Lord waited when we would have wanted Him to rush, we now know that the grave is not the end.  There is life after death.  The Lord will never forsake His own.  We are not only loved as friends but we are loved in sacrificial ways that will glorify the Lord if we can just wait until we get to the end of the story.  Many of our problems with those fiery darts of the wicked one (Ephesians 6:16) have to do with God’s timetable not being our timetable.  He has made a promise that He is coming again.  And He will, but maybe not when we want Him to come.

I have often wondered how Lazarus felt about being raised from the dead.  He obviously had a death experience, not a near death experience (or NDE as they are called today).  He had been in paradise enjoying rest.  I wonder how he felt about coming back and having to die all over again.  I suspect he was happy to be used as a teaching tool for the Lord, but I also suspect that if he could have stayed where he was when his body was in that tomb, he would have done so!

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of May 4, 2014

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