On multiple occasions throughout Disney’s Aladdin, Aladdin looks at Jasmine with his big, brown eyes, holds out his hand, pauses, and asks her, “Do you trust me?” Each time, Jasmine has a choice to make. She gives him her hand, says, “Yes,” and joins him (whether that be jumping off a building or onto a magic carpet).
This all came to my mind as I recently read through John 11 and the account of the death and resurrection of Lazarus. The story is a testament to the fact that the more you know Jesus, the more you know He’s trustworthy and in control and will work things out. But you do have to make a choice to step out in faith with Him and give Him your heart and hand.
In this life with Jesus, I continually find Him showing me a whole new world, a dazzling place I never knew. I repeatedly come to realize that, even in the midst of struggles and obstacles and questions, He had a beautiful plan all along. He orchestrates things in ways I never could. I end up marveling at what He did and wondering how I could have ever doubted Him or worried or tried to do things my way. Just like Jasmine, I often find myself singing: “A whole new world (every turn a surprise)/ With new horizons to pursue (every moment red-letter).”
Incidentally, “red-letter” is defined by Webster as “of special significance” with its history “from the practice of marking holy days in red letters in church calendars.” Indeed, every moment is red-letter after we place our hand in Jesus’. For once we give Him control, every moment of our new life is lived through and for Him, and He is working everything out for our good and His glory. Sometimes we will recognize and see the special significance of a moment while we are living it, and sometimes we won’t see it until much later when we see how moments of our lives were perfectly timed and orchestrated to yield astonishing results.
But now from way up here it’s crystal clear that now we’re in a whole new world with Him.
It was the same for Mary and Martha and the disciples. The events surrounding Lazarus’ sickness and death seemed puzzling. Yet from the very first report of Lazarus’ illness, Jesus proclaimed, “It is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (John 11:4, NIV). This would be a hard lesson to grasp.
“Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days” (John 11:5-6, NIV). This seems a strange reaction! Even more unexpected is when Jesus later proclaims to His disciples, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14, 15, NIV).
OK. So Jesus knows everything. He was not lingering for two days because He didn’t think it was urgent nor because He didn’t know Lazarus was dying or dead. He knows everything. And He does everything out of love.
Jesus didn’t go immediately not because He didn’t love Lazarus. He didn’t let Lazarus die and Mary and Martha suffer mourning and grief because He didn’t love them. We know He loved them (see John 11:3,5). We do well to remember that God loves us, too, and that His way is perfect (even if we don’t get it).
When Jesus got to Bethany, Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. By this time, many Jews had arrived there to comfort Martha and Mary in their grief (see John 11:17-19). This was perfect timing. Mary and Martha had not grasped this yet.
“‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died’” (John 11:21, NIV). A little later, Mary said the exact same thing to Jesus in a flood of tears. “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled…Jesus wept” (John 11:33, 35 NIV).
In His omniscience and love, Jesus also knows the pain we go through in this life. He knows that because things are not how they are supposed to be in this broken world, we will experience suffering and pain. But in His mercy and plan, all things will work out for good for those who love Him. He’s orchestrating everything to get all His people to that ultimate whole new world where there will be no more weeping nor death.
Jesus had them open Lazarus’ grave. The people were upset with Him and not trusting Him, not believing He knew what He was doing. When Jesus called and Lazarus came out of the tomb, “many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him” (John 11:45, NIV).
These people had previously said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:37, NIV). Of course He could have. But if He had, those very same people would not have known about it, been there to see what Jesus did, and thus believed in Him.
“…on account of [Lazarus] many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him (John 12:11, NIV).
The Lazarus incident happened right before Passover, so perfectly timed for the masses ascending up to nearby Jerusalem to hear about it. The people who had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead (due to God’s perfect timing) went on to help spread the word and draw many Jews to Jesus (see John 12:17-19). This all also served as a catalyst for the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion.
Perplexing. Painful. Yet, perfect.
God’s timing is always perfect. Do you believe that?
Next time you’re waiting, worried, frustrated, confused, or stressed, picture Jesus extending His hand to you.
“Do you trust Me?”
Destiny Teasley lives in Nevada, where she is a lover of the arts, pop culture, and travel (you'll often find her daydreaming about being in Israel or Disneyland). She delights in encountering beauty in the world and helping others to see and celebrate it for themselves. Destiny studied at Baylor, UNLV, Oxford, and Dallas Theological Seminary. You can find more of her writing at her blog,whentherockscryout.com .