IF YOU BELIEVE
“‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died…'” John 11:21 NIV.
“‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’ John 11:27 NIV.
How important these moments were with Martha before Jesus went to the tomb! He knew what He was doing. His delay and Lazarus’ death were part of a much bigger plan but…He needed to re-establish the bond of trust between Him and the sisters before He could give them their miracle.
“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’” John 11:32 NIV
They were disillusioned and disappointed because He had failed them in their crisis. The first words they uttered when they saw Him revealed their heart attitude. Betrayal! He had betrayed their trust and they let Him know it.
He was straight with Martha. She was the practical one, the tough one, the vocal one, the one who took the lead. No words of rebuke in response! He made a simple, straightforward statement: ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha had a general appreciation of that fact but it did not ease the pain of losing her brother. Jesus knew that.
He took her on, one step at a time, from acknowledging her belief in the resurrection to centring it on the one who stood before her. ‘I AM…’ Jesus assured her. Did she get the impact of that statement? No-one could claim to be I AM except the God who revealed His name to Moses in the desert. She answered Jesus’ challenge with an affirmation of her conviction that He was who He had revealed Himself to be…God’s Son and Messiah.
“…Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ He said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.’
“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that, if you believe you will see the glory of God?'” John 11:38-40 NIV.
No, the impact of Jesus’ statement had not yet hit Martha. She did not connect the I AM with the rotting corpse in the tomb. Jesus was about to show her just how real resurrection was. This was not the final resurrection when bodies long decayed and returned to dust would come out of the graves, refashioned into the likeness of His glorious body, yet to be revealed after He too, like Lazarus, had tasted death. God’s power, nevertheless, was displayed in bringing a decomposing body back to flesh-and-blood life!
Martha’s embryo faith had not yet reached that level of trust but, from Jesus’ point of view it was faith enough, although it was as minute as a grain of mustard seed. There was a flutter of hope; the connection had been made and He could reverse the process of death and show the grieving sisters and all who were there to sympathise with them the mercy and compassion of God.
What lesson did the sisters learn from this painful experience? What can we take for ourselves from the story? Is it worth trusting God when He seems silent and unmoved by our plea for help? If He says nothing, does nothing, never give in to the devil’s lie, ‘God does not care.’ He is preparing for a much bigger miracle, one that will put His glory on display and leave no doubt of His love and His power.
“God will not answer your prayers until He had put all the structures in place to maintain that answer.” His only answer is, “Will you trust me?”
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.