Oh, how I am comforted by these words! Jesus, who knows the end from the beginning, who knew that raising Lazarus from the dead was the plan all along, wept because he was so deeply moved by the grief of the people who were mourning their loss.
But let’s rewind…
Jesus had gotten word that Lazarus was sick but by the time he got to Bethany, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for 4 days.
Jesus intentionally delayed his arrival because he know what miraculous outcome was in store.
When Lazarus’ sister, Martha, heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him and, of course, the first thing she said was, “If you’d been here, he wouldn’t have died” Then she added, “but I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Wow – there it is. Martha expressed her pain to Jesus first. She even sounds like there was an edge to her voice, because she knows (and she knows that Jesus knows) that her brother’s death could have been prevented. Then she follows with a beautiful statement of faith, even in her grief. Martha declared that she knows that anything is still possible!
Her brother was dead and buried, and yet, she still had hope! How many of us look at the apparent finality of our situation and think it’s over? How many of us dare to hope?
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)
Martha’s statement of faith in the face of such finality is inspiring. “But I know”. That’s the key. Life brings us agonies, disappointments, losses and, sometimes, pandemics and we find our hearts crying out, “Lord, if you had been here…” When the situation looks bleak and final, my friends, that is the time to remember what we know, rather than to just think about how we feel.
“But I know that, even now, God will give you whatever you ask.” Whatever you ask! Nothing is so final that God doesn’t still have the last word. Herein lies our hope, our faith and our reason to rejoice.
Then it gets even better.
Jesus tells Martha that her brother will rise again and she, like many of us, accepts this to be a spiritual truth. (I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day) Yes, we have this glorious hope! For the follower of Jesus, death is not final. It is not the last chapter. We will rise again to be in Heaven eternally.
But that’s not what Jesus was referring to and his response is powerful.
Martha said, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection” and Jesus replied, “I am the resurrection and the life”
WOW! I don’t know if those words made Martha confused as to their meaning or if she felt a bit faint as those words sunk in. I think it was the former.
Jesus went on to say, “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Again – WOW! Powerful words to a woman whose brother lay dead in a tomb, but again, Martha replied with faith and hope.
“Yes Lord”, she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world”
Martha’s faith and hope in Jesus were sustaining her in her grief but she was still focused on the spiritual aspect of Jesus’ purpose. She didn’t seem to be catching the very practical application of what he was saying. How many of us do that?
We are unwavering in our faith in Jesus for our salvation and our hope of Heaven but don’t quite make the connection to Jesus’ work in the here and now.
Jesus tells us of miracles he is giving us in our lives today but we miss it because we think in terms of him being “out there” when he is actually “right here”.
We don’t see any evidence of further explanation to Martha regarding Lazarus because the next thing we know, Martha tells Mary that Jesus wants to speak to her. It is clear from Mary’s response that Martha did not understand that Jesus was about to bring her brother back to life because, when Mary approached Jesus, she also said, “If you’d been here, my brother would not have died.”
How often do we linger in our pain when Jesus has already revealed his miracle for us because we continue to focus on our feelings rather than on him?
Everyone was still in mourning. Keep in mind, Jesus had already told Martha that he would raise Lazarus (I am the resurrection). He was there and that’s all they needed, but Martha had not understood, or else I’m sure she would have told Mary. Instead, Mary expresses her pain and disappointment to Jesus, “If only you’d been here”.
And how does Jesus respond? He doesn’t get defensive (But I told Martha!) He doesn’t scold the sisters for their grief. He doesn’t suggest that their sorrow shows a lack of faith. What does he do? He looks around at all the heartbroken people and he is “moved deeply in his spirit and troubled”.
What a beautiful picture of Christ’s compassion! He knew (and had known all along) that he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead but he did not let that disconnect him from the very real pain that Martha, Mary and their friends were feeling.
Jesus asked where they laid their brother BECAUSE HE WAS GOING TO RAISE HIM BACK TO LIFE, and yet, here we have the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus wept. John 11:35. Two precious words that assure us that we are not alone in our sorrow, in our grief, in our losses and fears.
The God of Heaven, the Creator of the sun and moon and stars, of every living thing who ever was and ever will be, the God who created you and me, who knows the end from the beginning, was so deeply moved by the grief and pain of his friends and of their friends that he wept with them.
Even though he knew what he was about to do.
My friends, know that whatever is going on in your life right now, whatever is causing you sorrow or pain, fear or anxiety, the Almighty God, comes down and weeps with us. He does not belittle our tears. He shares in them. He participates fully with humanity while being fully God. And he weeps.
Take courage today. Jesus is here.
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Linda blends warmth, wisdom and humour into every presentation. Enjoy the ride!