Jesus Comforts the Sisters
17On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18Bethany was less than two miles[a] from Jerusalem, 19and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21″Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27″Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ,[b] the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
28And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32When 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.”
33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34″Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
36Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
We do not know much about Lazarus other than the fact that he was the brother of Mary and Martha. Mary and Martha were followers of Jesus. Mary was the one who sat at Jesus’ feet while he taught and Martha worked, caring for her guests. We have heard nothing about Lazarus until now, when he is at the point of death and the sisters send for Jesus.
But Jesus does something quite unexpected–He lingers while Lazarus dies. In fact, He waits until Lazarus has been dead for four days to return to the home of Mary and Martha. If Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus so much, why did He hesitate?
The Jewish belief about death was that the soul lingers near the body for three days. If the spirit has not re-entered the body during that time, then the person is declared dead. So, if Jesus had arrived any sooner, his detractors would have claimed Lazarus was not really dead.
Even in the midst of her grief, we witness great faith as Martha proclaims, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died…I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus wept, the shortest verse in the Bible, but surely one of the most poignant. Even though Jesus knew the outcome would be the resurrection of a beloved friend, He was overcome with emotion over the temporary loss of his friend and the suffering of his friend’s family.
Sequestered within these verses is the pronouncement of who Jesus is. While both Martha and Mary recognize Jesus as the Christ, Jesus himself proclaims, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” You will recall when Moses was confronted with the burning bush, and he asked what he should tell the people about God, God simply answered, “tell them I AM.” I AM the alpha and the omega, I AM the beginning and the end, I AM all you will ever need. And now, Jesus is saying, “I AM.”
Can you say with Martha that you believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, or are you still seeking for answers? The Holy Bible is a wellspring of answers–dive into the pool of living waters and emerge a new creature in Christ.
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- Tagged: Carol J. Grace, Jesus comforts Martha and Mary, Seeking Holiness