JOHN 11:3,21, 22, 40—“So the sisters sent to Him saying, Lord, he whom You love so well is sick.” “Martha then said to Jesus, Master, if You had been here my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever You ask from God He will grant to you.” “Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you should see the glory of God?’” (Amplified Bible)
Last week we visited together about the Bible account of Lazarus’ death and the subsequent, varied results. Today we are going to look at some lessons we can learn from this intricately interwoven Biblical drama.
Jesus had at one time upbraided Martha for her lack of spiritual prioritization and praised Mary for her devotion to learning. Mary had been the ardent follower but Martha became the devout leader. When it came to confidence that Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead Martha was at the forefront—the weak one became the strong one. What a powerful demonstration of the fact that we can always change attitudes and behaviors for the better through Jesus’ strength that empowers us.
Then we look at Mary and her absence from Lazarus’ tomb until she was summoned. Jesus’ behavior was not what she would have anticipated and it appears doubt in who He was and His miraculous abilities may have crept in. Not unlike seasons we sometimes go through, Mary was weary from pain and loss and it seems she relied on her own strength which will fail us every time. Blinded by a lack of faith she could not see that the tomb contained resurrection instead of death. As Scripture so aptly admonishes, the devil is always looking for an opportunity to infiltrate our faith and cause us to fall when we think we are standing strong. (1 Corinthians 10:12 “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”—NIV) When we presume to predict God’s timing and actions and He does not cooperate as we feel appropriate, Satan can totally take advantage.
A tremendously important part of this narrative is verse 40: “Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you should see the glory of God?” Maybe one of the most difficult things as Christians we are called upon to do is believe and rely on Christ. Note that seeing the glory of God was dependent upon believing and relying on Jesus. Just as God’s glory was truly seen in this miracle so will it be seen in the miracle of a life based on trust in God and His Son. And even though Martha had substantiated her faith in His miraculous powers it seems there still remained a bit of confusion. In John 11:39 Jesus says for the tomb stone to be taken away. And in true human response Martha is warning everyone of the horrible stench there will be. She still is not quite on point. But oh my gosh just hang on Martha—just wait. Because you did “believe” and you did “rely” you are definitely going to witness seeing God’s glory in a huge way—the dead returned to the living. And she did. “Just wait my child—why so impatient?” we hear God say to us. But that word “wait” gets us every time. What if we could learn to believe, rely, and wait? What miracles would we witness?
Another lesson is how Mary and Lazarus both benefited from Martha’s unwavering faith. Remember Jesus had the “if you will believe and rely on Me” talk with Martha only. It would appear that the outcome of how this went was dependent on her. Because of Martha, Lazarus regained life and Mary regained a brother. We can also be the cause of others’ lives being blessed when we have faith in God on their behalf through prayer.
Just as Lazarus was resurrected to a new physical beginning so can we be resurrected to a new spiritual beginning. And not just when we become Christians but all through our journey as we walk with Christ—we can continue reinventing or resurrecting ourselves. What might you need to die to and be resurrected from? Remember without death—the worst possible outcome there can be no resurrection—the best possible outcome.