How many times must the disciples have heard Jesus say, “I do nothing of my

own. I do only what My Father tells Me” (paraphrase, see John 5:19, 8:28)? One of the many examples of this is found in John 11. Lazarus, the man Jesus loved dearly, is terribly sick. So his sisters send word to Jesus to come quickly to their aid, I’m sure with the hope that perhaps Jesus will heal him.

Upon hearing of His friend’s sickness, I am certain that many emotions were stirred in Jesus’ heart. Just imagine how you would feel if your closest and dearest friend was terribly ill and dying in the hospital. Would you not rush to your friend’s aid, laying aside your plans and agendas just to be with him in his time of need?


Jesus was fully God and fully man, so I am sure that He very much wanted to make the trip immediately, to go and touch His friend Lazarus and raise him up. When He heard about Lazarus’s sickness, He was about 30 miles away from the town he lived in—at least a two-day journey!

But the Bible does not tell us that Jesus rushed out the door to go to Lazarus. Instead, “When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (John 11:4–6, emphasis mine).


Later in the chapter we read of Jesus finally arriving at the tomb of Lazarus, who had now already been dead for four days. Both Mary and Martha cried to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, [our] brother would not have died” (John 11:21).


Why was Jesus not there sooner? Why didn’t He go right away, as soon as He heard the news, before Lazarus died? The answer is found in John 5:19—“The

Son can do nothing of Himself.” The moment Jesus heard the news about Lazarus, He looked up and asked His Father what He must do. The Father must have told Him, “Son, it is not the time. Wait.” And so Christ waited, demonstrating absolute submission to His Father’s will.


And again, in the last few minutes of Jesus’ life, before going to the cross, the disciples witnessed Christ kneeling and again talking to His Father, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42, emphasis mine). It was the Father’s will for the Son to drink the cup that He gave Him. Even though inside Jesus pleaded for it to be taken from Him, He yielded to the will of His Father. In life and in death, Christ showed how He submitted Himself to His Father’s will and authority, leaving this as an example for His disciples—and us—to follow.


Jesus was not only referring to submitting to spiritual authority either. He submitted to the governing authorities of His day as well, subject to the decisions of Herod and Pontius Pilate. If Christ, the One who rules the nations and sits at the right-hand throne of God, came to this earth and submitted to the leaders of His day, how much more should we?


How does Jesus’ example apply to our lives? Sometimes the leadership God places in our lives may be younger than we or perhaps less able or wise in our eyes. We must recognize that God is the One who placed those individuals over us. Romans 13:1–2 (NIV) says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” We cannot break God’s order.