How many times must the disciples have heard Jesus say, “I do nothing of my own. I do only what My Father tells Me” (paraphrase, see John 5:19, 8:28)?
One of the many examples of this is found in John 11. Lazarus, the man Jesus loved dearly, is terribly sick. So his sisters send word to Jesus to come quickly to their aid, I’m sure with the hope that perhaps Jesus will heal him.
Upon hearing of His friend’s sickness, I am certain that many emotions were stirred in Jesus’ heart. Just imagine how you would feel if your closest and dearest friend was terribly ill and dying in the hospital. Would you not rush to your friend’s aid, laying aside your plans and agendas just to be with him in his time of need?
Jesus was fully God and fully man, so I am sure that He very much wanted to make the trip immediately, to go and touch His friend Lazarus and raise him up. When He heard about Lazarus’s sickness, He was about 30 miles away from the town he lived in—at least a two-day journey! But the Bible does not tell us that Jesus rushed out the door to go to Lazarus. Instead, “When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (John 11:4–6,emphasis mine).
Later in the chapter we read of Jesus finally arriving at the tomb of Lazarus, who had now already been dead for four days. Both Mary and Martha cried to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, [our] brother would not have died” (John 11:21).
Why was Jesus not there sooner? Why didn’t He go right away, as soon as He heard the news, before Lazarus died?
The answer is found in John 5:19—“The Son can do nothing of Himself.” The moment Jesus heard the news about Lazarus, He looked up and asked His Father what He must do. The Father must have told Him, “Son, it is not the time. Wait.” And so Christ waited, demonstrating absolute submission to His Father’s will.