What was the secret of Jesus’ work? We find a clue following Mark’s account of Jesus’ busy day. Mark observes that “….in the morning, a great while before day, He rose and went out to a lonely place, and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35). Here is the secret of Jesus’ life and work for God: He prayerfully waited for His Father’s instructions and for the strength to follow them. Jesus had no divinely-drawn blueprint; He discerned the Father’s will day by day in a life of prayer. By this means He warded off the urgent and accomplished the important.
Lazarus’s death illustrates this principle. What could have been more important than the urgent message from Mary and Martha, “Lord, he whom you love is ill” (John 11:3)? John records the Lord’s response in these paradoxical words: “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” (verses 5-6). What was the urgent need? Obviously it was to prevent the death of this beloved brother. But the important thing from God’s point of view was to raise Lazarus from the dead. So Lazarus was allowed to die. Later Jesus revived him as a sign of His magnificent claim, “I am the resurrection and the life: he who believes in Me though he die, yet shall he live” (verse 25).
We may wonder why our Lord’s ministry was so short, why it could not have lasted another five or ten years, why so many wretched sufferers were left in their misery. Scripture gives not answer to these questions, and we leave them in the mystery of God’s purposes. But we do know that Jesus’ prayerful waiting for God’s instructions freed Him from the tyranny of the urgent. It gave Him a sense of direction, set a steady pace and enabled Him to do every task God assigned. And on the last night He could say, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.”
Copyright 1967 by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Reprinted by permission of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Il 60515