GREATER THAN EXPECTED
As a child growing up, there were many foods I claimed I did not like. The truth is I had not tasted many of them. For years, I said I did not like spinach, kale, and garden salad. The fact is I had not given them a chance, including Brussel Sprouts, collard greens, and turnip greens. Well, one day I tried all of these. To my surprise, I discovered that not only are these vegetables good for me, but they are delicious and better than I expected.
Spiritually speaking, there are many who are turned off by Jesus, Christianity, and the church. My word to you is this – try Jesus for yourself! The Bible says in Psalms 34:8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: Blessed is the man that trusteth in him”. Here, taste means to find out, experience, or try Him for yourself. Certainly, He is good, desirable, and kind. The Lord is good! You will never know how truly good He is if you don’t try Him for yourself. There is a family in John 11 who was in a crisis. In their calamity, they tried Jesus. What Jesus did for them was so much greater than they expected. Take a moment and read John 11. Their story is amazing. For now, I will summarize their story and focus on how the Lord Jesus exceeded their expectations. What He did for them was greater than they expected.
The members of the Bethany family in John 11 are Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Now, Bethany is not their last name. Bethany is where they lived, only two miles outside of Jerusalem. Jesus had a very close relationship with this family. In fact, they were His friends. One of the hymns of the church says, “What a friend we have in Jesus. . .what a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer”. Well, Lazarus became ill and the sisters sent word to Jesus, as we see in John 11:3: “3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’” Did you notice their reference to Jesus’ love for Lazarus? Well, He love us, all of us! Clearly the sisters expected Jesus to come and heal Lazarus. They knew Jesus loved Lazarus. They never doubted Jesus concern and care for them. Now, this is interesting, they are close to Jesus and they knew Jesus loves them. Still, they encountered trouble. Closeness to Jesus does not prevent us from having trouble in our lives. Trouble should not be seen as an indication that Jesus does not love us. One of the blessings of a close loving relationship with Jesus is it allows us to call on Him! I hope your closeness to Jesus assures you that you can call on Him.
When Jesus receives word of Lazarus’ situation, He discloses the divine purpose for it in John 11:4, “But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it”. The purpose is for God’s glory. Lazarus, who is love by Jesus and close to Jesus, is going through this to bring honor, praise, and worship to the true and living God. Is it possible that your current challenges in life are really designed to bring glory to God? Perhaps you should think about this. Jesus knows exactly what to do for God to be glorified in your life, my life, and Lazarus’ life.
Since glory is the objective, Jesus waits two days before He heads to where Lazarus is. By the time Jesus gets there, Lazarus has been dead for days. In fact, when Jesus arrives, Lazarus is in the grave. Remember, the sisters wanted healing. The situation is now beyond healing. When Jesus arrives, the sisters express their disappointment. This teaches me that Jesus can handle our disappointments. Jesus weeps with them. Jesus is touched by our pain. Jesus goes to Lazarus’ grave, a place of hopelessness. Jesus shows up where there is hopelessness.
The disappointment, pain, and hopelessness became the stage for Jesus to do something greater than they expected. No doubt, the sisters struggled with Jesus’ timing. The crowd around the sisters questioned Jesus ability. Finally, the sisters disagreed with Jesus method. That is, they objected to Jesus’ request to move the stone from Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus calls for obedience and trust in order to have the greater than expected. After trusting and obeying Jesus, the greater than expected happened, as we see in John 11:43-44. It says, “When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out’ 44. The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go’”.
Wow! Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He resurrected him. This is amazing! The sisters wanted healing. They expected healing. They asked for healing. They waited for healing. But Jesus gave them something greater. There was sickness, delay, and the stone. They struggled with Jesus’ timing, questioned His ability, and disagreed with His method, but Lazarus resurrection was greater than what they expected. Is it possible that your prayer request has not been realized because the Lord wants to do greater than what you are asking for? Will you trust and obey Him, although you do not understand why He has not done what you have asked? I encourage you to trust, obey, and wait on Him. Perhaps He is preparing something greater than you are expecting. The Bible assures us that He is able to exceed our expectations. This assurance is confirmed in Ephesians 3:20. It says, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”.
By: Bishop Arthur F. Mosley