DEAD AND DISILLUSIONED
“On His arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him, but Mary stayed at home.
“‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’
“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?'” John 11:18-26 NIV.
Two worlds! Two perspectives! Two sisters; Martha and Mary – disappointed, disillusioned, devastated! Were they more distraught about Jesus’ failure to come when they needed Him than they were about the death of their brother? Like Job, the Lord whom they passionately loved and believed in was not there for them in their darkest hour.
When He did finally arrive it was too late. Did He miss the seriousness of Lazarus’ illness? Was this the one time in His life when He was out of touch with reality? His head in the clouds, had He misjudged the whole situation and fallen short of their trust?
Martha was quick to respond to His arrival. She had to let Him know how she felt about His behaviour. Her rebuke fell from her lips before she had time to think. She blurted out her disappointment, perhaps in the hopes that she might at least get an apology from Him. Does God ever have to apologise? Perhaps an explanation? Something beyond His control had delayed Him and He was ever so sorry that He could not come in time…
Another world! Another perspective! Jesus; the Son of God – fully aware of what was going on in the natural as well as the unseen world. His delay had been purposeful, fully under the Father’s control. There was something bigger in this situation than another healing to notch up on His proverbial belt. This was a setup from God to give those nearest to Jesus – as well as His opponents – the biggest shakeup of their lives.
Of course, He knew exactly what was happening! This was no error in timing or in judgement. Everything was perfectly on course, including Lazarus’ death and what was to follow. He had to wait until the spirit of the dead man, whom the Jews believed remained in the vicinity for four days before leaving, had finally departed for the other realm.
His response was not an apology or an explanation, as Martha possibly expected. Instead, Jesus spoke some of the profoundest and most riveting – and comforting – words He had ever uttered. At first Martha misunderstood His reassurance, ‘Your brother will rise again.’
We do not know what Jesus had taught this little family during the times He spent in their home. No doubt, from Martha’s response, He had fleshed out with them the hope of resurrection which was not much more than a vague idea in the Old Testament writings. Martha had the comfort of knowing that there was a life to come, but that did little to ease the ache of her loss. She needed something more substantial to fill the terrible void left by her brother’s death.
Jesus’ beautiful plan was much more imminent than that. He was there – Jehovah Shamma; Immanuel – God in the flesh, and wherever He was, He reversed everything the curse had brought to mankind. He was the Lamb of God, slain from before the foundation of the world. In Him was life and the power to restore life, both physical and spiritual. What He needed was a response of trust from the two sisters who were the link between Jesus and their brother.
He was not out of options. Did Martha believe that? Did she realise that everything He did was purposeful? No, He had not misjudged anything. He was about to reveal, through the death of their brother, everything that He was – the Son of God who had overcome the enemy’s most vicious weapon – death! Lazarus would live again – for now; the day was coming that they would all live again – forever; Lazarus, their brother would be the incontrovertible sign that not even the Jews could deny.
“I AM the resurrection and the life,” He declared. Now was the time to put flesh on His words.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.