No one knows. Jesus’ reasons for delay are not explained here. We can only surmise that a higher purpose-higher than saving people from physical death-caused Jesus not to go with immediate haste to His friend’s side. That purpose was surely the one that Jesus had come to fulfill: saving people from spiritual death, that is, from eternal separation from His loving heavenly Father.
Though Lazarus was raised miraculously, he did die later. So did Mary and Martha, the disciples, and all of Jesus’ closet friends. Jesus did not come to spare His loved ones the experience of physical death but to show them the path to eternal life.
We also find Jesus using the perceptions linked with tax collectors to jolt the Jewish leaders from their complacency. While he was teaching in the temple courts during the final week of his life on earth, Jesus frequently clashed with the Jewish leaders, who questioned his authority and resisted his invitations to know him as their Savior from sin.
During the Roman era, tax collectors and the manner in which taxes were collected evolved and varied from one region to the next. Here we offer a general picture of the process that will allow us to appreciate the role tax collectors played in the Gospels. Taxes were paid to both the temple and the state, each of which established its own tax code without consideration of the other. First-century Jews paid a religious tithe of their produce, herd, and flock (Lev 27:30-32); they were also required to pay the half-shekel or two-drachma tax for sanctuary upkeep (Exod 30:13; Matt 17:24). The state demanded taxes that included a poll tax levied on males fourteen to sixty-five years of age and females twelve to sixty-five, real estate tax, customs tax collected at road and harbor stations, a tax on produce that amounted to 10 percent on grain and 20 percent on wine, fruit, and oil, a 1 percent income tax, and sales and inheritance taxes.
To be entirely and blatantly truthful in everything we say could unnecessarily hurt a lot of feelings and create a lot of worries. Thus, in everyday conversation we say “white lies” about someone’s appearance or even about our own state of health.
These laws sound rigid and austere in their proclamations, and we cannot say for sure how often this particular punishment was employed. What we can say for sure is that exceptions were allowed, as illustrated by Jesus. He did not demand that the woman caught in adultery be executed but instead disarmed her executioners and urged her to leave her lift of sin (John 8:3-11).
God has given us a very explicit ruling on homosexuality. Read what His Word says.
46. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. . .Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. (Lev 18:22, 24-25).
The Tabernacle must have been a great mystery for people. Even priests did not know everything about this holy tent. A place where only one man, once a year, entered; where God’s powerful presence was visible; where the high priest brought blood and incense to do a ritual of atonement for the sins of the all the people; the Tabernacle was a place of wonder.
The issue of purity was very important for the Israelites. The Tabernacle was at the center of all of Israel’s life. God’s presence in the midst of the camp determined the life of the people. An important function of the Mosaic Law was to instruct people on how to live in the presence of a holy God. The holy and the impure cannot coexist. Thus, God provided a means to cleanse what had become impure. God chose purification rites and sacrifices to prevent the destruction of the people when they became impure. The following table shows the main causes for ritual and moral impurity and the prescription for achieving purity anew.
The idea of sacrifice is at the core of the Christian faith. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is one of the central truths of the gospel. However, this important element of the Christians faith finds its origin and explanation in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. It is true that Jesus’ sacrifice has made obsolete the Old Testament sacrificial system (Hebrews 10:1-18). However, the original readers of the letter to the Hebrews knew and understood the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. From that knowledge, they were able to more fully understand Jesus’ work on the cross.