An expression of love is easily recognised and understood by humans and many animals.
Looking out of my office window, I see love expressed as a young mum holds the tender hand of her daughter as they walk past. I see young couples walking and talking together and enjoying the lovely weather.
Love is also seen when a dog sees his/her owner, as they walk through the door after a long day’s work. We see love when one goes out of their way to help another in need. Love is expressed in many ways, through acts of affection, kindness, and care for others.
Paul the Apostle writes about love, saying; “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
These shades of love described by the Apostle are easily recognised by Christians. However, what about the love between friends (Phileo – friendship) that Jesus had for Lazarus, that although he knew he was unwell and needed healing, he stayed a further two days until Lazarus died.
Luke states, “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. The narrative goes that Lazarus died while Jesus delayed his journey.
The course of action for Jesus’ delaying only leaves us with two possible explanations of his actual intent. The first is that he perhaps pretended to love Lazarus, but deep down, he didn’t love his ‘friend’. The second is that he did actually love him, but there was a greater good that would be gained by his delay, which would in turn prove his love.
As the story goes, on the fourth day of Lazarus’ death, Jesus raised him back to life again, proving his love for him (John 11:38-44).
The experience of Lazarus gives us an insight into the nature of God’s love, that although God is love (1 John 4:16), the expression of His love towards us isn’t always what we would expect. Our confidence should however be that, just as in the case of Lazarus, He will always prove Himself loving.
You may be experiencing a dark patch in your life, perhaps similar to that of Lazarus’ tomb experience. You may perhaps be in a season of loss and grief, like that of Martha and Mary. You may find yourself in a precarious situation relating to your job and stability in life, but whatever it may be, the Lord is able to turn it around for good.
The Psalmist reminds us of this love, saying, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favour is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” Psalm 30:5
Be encouraged and rest in His unfailing love.