"Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was." John 11:5-6 ESV
It's hard to imagine Jesus not leaving immediately when he hears of this illness. But he chose to wait.
Earlier, when Jesus was in Cana an official asks that he travel to Capernaum (located 20 miles away) to heal his son. Jesus sends him home, saying, “Your son will live.” The deadly fever broke that same hour.
Jesus didn't need to travel the 25 or so miles from the east side of the Jordan to Bethany to heal Lazarus—he could have healed with a word. But he didn’t.
Jesus was absent, both physically and in the use of power until after Lazarus’ death. Why?
When Jesus receives word of his friend's illness he tells the disciples: “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.” Jesus dissembled.
This illness did lead to death. The wrapped in grave clothes, soaked in spices, decaying in a tomb kind of death. Jesus told the disciples that Lazarus was only sleeping—unfortunately it was the “sleep with the fishes” sort of sleep. Jesus was forced to clarify.
The delay had to be on Jesus' mind—and the sisters wasted no time reminding him when he arrived: “Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died.” Was Jesus unhappy with his Father's direction? Perhaps the delay and obfuscation wasn't his choice—but rather the Father’s call.
John's gospel tells us this unbinding from death benefited many people: the disciples, those by the tomb, Jews that believed later because of Lazarus’ raising, as well as Mary, Martha, and Lazarus—of course.
It was for the glory of God, but I doubt Jesus was looking forward to this walk to Judea.
Martha met him on the road, before he got to the city. “Where the Hell were you?” might be a better translation of what she said. Mary stayed in the city, unwilling to face the healer and teacher that had failed her. When summoned she didn’t look Jesus in the eye with anger, she fell at his feet sobbing—those around her weeping.
Surrounded by tears, Mary’s grief streaking the dust before him, Jesus was overcome. The cost of this glory had been high.