It is particularly notable that this suffering has come to this family, whom John records as the special objects of Jesus' love. Indeed, John makes the shocking remark, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was" [John 11:5-6]. It is the strange word "so" at the beginning of the second sentence that baffles the modern reader. We could accept "yet" or "but," but "so" means that Christ deliberately allowed this affliction and death as a sign of special favor to Lazarus. And so He did, as He often does, permit suffering to afflict those who are His special favorites. To them, as to Lazarus, a special work of healing will be done for the one He loves so much. The supreme paradigm of this is Christ Himself, who endures the most suffering and has been exalted higher than all.
One Lazarus, or Two?
In this morning's post, I mentioned the parable of Lazarus and the rich man from Luke 16:19-3. Mark Shea discusses that today with a particularly interesting theory: that the "parable" might be actually be the true story of the real-life Lazarus. After all, this is the only person ever named in any of Jesus' parables, and the account from Luke 16 (about how the rich man begged Abraham for Lazarus to come back from the dead to warn his brothers) fits in perfectly with John 11, in which the real-life Lazarus does come back from the dead. If nothing else, Mark's post is worth the read if for no other reason than this priceless insight from John 11: