But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind have kept this man from dying?”

John 11:37 (NIV, 1984)

Those very familiar with the Bible might recognize the words above from the account of Jesus raising His friend, Lazarus, from the dead. They reflect the opinion of those who had gathered around the tomb shortly after the arrival of Jesus to comfort Mary and Martha. In fact, the words above appear to reflect the prevailing sentiment of the day for both sisters had separately expressed to Jesus that if He had been there their “brother would not have died.” It seems as if Jesus had arrived at a faith-rich environment but the faith He witnessed came with certain expectations.

First, the faith present at the tomb seemed to be dependent upon a specific window of time where undoubtedly Jesus “could have” saved Lazarus “if only” He had left promptly at the time He was notified of his sickness. It’s almost as if both Mary and Martha did everything except ask Jesus, “Where have you been?” 

Secondly, beyond Jesus’ poor sense of timing, there was an air of finality now that death had come. Grieving was all that was left to do—but at least Jesus had arrived in time for that. To be fair, there had been an earlier conversation between Martha and Jesus where she seemed willing to believe the impossible when she said, “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” But when Jesus assured her that her “brother would rise again,” she retreated to her conservative understanding that he would indeed rise again in the final resurrection. His dramatic response, “I am the resurrection” declared that death and the grave answered to Him and that nothing was over until He said it was over!

Standing by Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus answered the grieving crowd—as well as every person who would ever cry out in desperation to Him—that He ALWAYS hears and He ALWAYS responds in a way that will ultimately build our faith and bring the most glory to God. Not every prayer we offer will be answered in the manner we want. Every problem we face may not be resolved according to our schedule. But what He does—when He does it—will ultimately exceed all expectations!