I was driving home from church with my mom
the other day. She was telling me about a worship service she went to on Palm Sunday while on vacation in Mexico.
She and a couple of friends walked down the beach to a church that was having an English-language Palm Sunday service. After two hours of songs and preaching, two of her friends had bailed on her. She felt it would impolite to just get up and leave, so she stuck it out. That is, until she heard the preacher say, “My Jesus is NOT nice!”
That came back to mind this morning when I was reading John 11 in preparation for this coming weekend’s worship service.
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was (John 11:5-6 ESV).
Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Ok.
Jesus can heal the sick (which Lazarus certainly was). Ok.
Jesus knows Lazarus is ill and in need of healing. Right.
Jesus stays where He is an additional two days. Whoa.
It seems to me that Jesus’ priorities are a bit out of whack here. If he loves Lazarus, and can heal him, why doesn’t He? At the very least, why doesn’t Jesus rush off to be with Mary and Martha during a very difficult time? Why does Jesus stay away?
The answer to that question is, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”
And I realized, that preacher on a beach in Mexico was right. Jesus isn’t “nice.” Nice would have been to go to Mary and Martha and sit with them while they grieve Lazarus’ death. Maybe bring some flowers or some food for them.
But Jesus stays away until Lazarus dies. In fact, Jesus stays away until Lazarus has been dead and buried four days.
Jesus isn’t nice. Jesus is awesome!
Jesus shows up after the funeral is over. He gets yelled at, a little bit, by both Martha and Mary. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
But this is how much Jesus loves Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Jesus doesn’t heal Lazarus. He doesn’t take his illness away. That would have been nice.
Jesus raises Lazarus from certain death!
Do you get it? Jesus loves us so much that He will move heaven and earth to save us completely. Jesus doesn’t do the nice thing by giving us a few dollars to tied us over until payday. Jesus doesn’t do the nice thing by dropping off some lasagna so the family can eat and mom doesn’t have to cook tonight.
Jesus gives us new life. He suffered God’s wrath that our sin deserved for us. Jesus died in our place. Jesus gives us His life through His resurrection.
No, Jesus is not nice. Jesus is great, awesome, powerful, majestic, stupendous, magnificent, etc.
Jesus is love.