Margin notes: Inscrutable love

John 11:1–5 (ESV) — 1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 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.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

It is the 5th verse in our text that grips me today.

It is not due to any lack of love on God’s part, that He sometimes allows us to undergo inexplicable and heartbreaking experiences. As Believers, we can be assured that His intention and role in them, is love. But oh the anguish of those who do not know Him, and have no such promises to sustain them in their trials.

Note how the text says He loved all three. He does not choose to act as He does in waiting because He can only show love to one or two at the expense of another. His wisdom is as infinite as His love. It isn’t as though in God’s economy He can only love one at a time or has to shortchange one in order to bless another. He intricately weaves all of them together. He has all the parties in mind at once. His waiting and then His raising of Lazarus is best for Lazarus, best for Martha, best for Mary, best for His disciples, best for the Townsfolk, and all these generations removed, best for you and me to witness it all.

For those who are loved of Christ as His own, His wisdom, love and eternal purposes to glorify the Father and secure the fullest possible salvation for all who believe may be inscrutable – but it is real. And it is here we are to rest. It reminds me of the words of George Matheson’s famous hymn:

O Love that will not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in thee;

I give thee back the life I owe,

That in thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.


O Light that foll’west all my way,

I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;

My heart restores its borrowed ray,

That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day

May brighter, fairer be.


O Joy that seekest me through pain,

I cannot close my heart to thee;

I trace the rainbow through the rain,

And feel the promise is not vain,

That morn shall tearless be.


O Cross that liftest up my head,

I dare not ask to fly from thee;

I lay in dust life’s glory dead,

And from the ground there blossoms red

Life that shall endless be.

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