(6) So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. (7) Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
(11) These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” (12) Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” (13) However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. (14) Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. (15) And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”
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Jesus already knew that Lazarus needed healing when the news reached Him. He assures His disciples that the sickness would not have death as its final result, however, God was permitting it for two reasons: the furtherance and accomplishment of the Father's purpose and His glorification, as well as the glorification of Jesus Himself.
His delay in going to Bethany must have puzzled His friends, especially when He allowed it to end in death. Yet, the distressed sisters were to learn that God's delays are not denials. Unrelieved suffering is sometimes necessary to perfect character—Jesus Himself “learned obedience by the things that He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
Mary and Martha were sure Jesus would come because He loved them. They had to learn that He was not neglecting them, but that His purpose in delaying was one of godly love. It was probably emotionally painful for Jesus to cause Mary and Martha grief, but He wanted to reveal to them—and to us—that despite our inclination to help our friends, even if we have power to do so, we must be guided by God's Spirit to prioritize His glory and our spiritual welfare, rather than gratify our feelings.
— Martin G. Collins