Saturday Morning Musing
Grab your Bible – come do some wallowing with me – I can’t wait to share this with you and hear your thoughts…
Let’s go to John 11. I’m going to be quoting from ESV (and a little from the DCV, too) but that doesn’t matter, just follow along in your preferred translation. You won’t be left behind, I promise. 😀
This chapter is the story of Lazarus’ death and subsequent resurrection. It starts off telling us that Lazarus was sick and that he was of Bethany, the same city as Mary and Martha. (Note the order – despite Martha being the oldest.) Then John takes the time to explain to us that it was Mary who had anointed Jesus’ feet with the oil, even though the event hadn’t occurred yet. Because of Lazarus’ illness, the sisters send for Jesus.
As the story progresses, it becomes very clear that they wholly expected that Jesus would come and Lazarus would be healed. The idea that Lazarus would remain sick after Jesus arrived was a foreign concept to them. They didn’t even consider it. (Note that the Pharisees expected it as well. It never occurred to them that Jesus wouldn’t heal – so my note to self is, “If those that knew Him best – and those that liked Him least – all shared the exact same expectation, why wouldn’t I?!!” but that’s another blog for another day.)
Jesus responds to the news of Lazarus’ illness, saying, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John goes on to say, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister.” (What? No mention of Mary by name?) “So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was.” HOLD THE PHONE! Jesus loved Martha and her sister…SO, because of that, He remained two days longer? That “So” throws me for a loop.
Let’s skip to verse 12. The disciples said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” So Jesus has to speak plainly to them: “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But, let us go to him.”
May I just say, I’m pretty sure that would have been me? A wee bit on the dull side, there. I can see Jesus walking on ahead and me still standing there, just looking at one of the other disciples and saying, “So…is Lazarus dead or is he asleep, cause I’m kind of confused here.”
NOW, here we get to the REALLY AMAZING part. Jesus is heading into Bethany and Martha hears He’s coming – she runs out to Him and says, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died….” Jesus says to her, “Martha, your brother will rise again. I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” He takes the time to minister to her and reassure her that her brother’s life is safe in Him.
Now, Jesus doesn’t even leave the place that Martha met Him, before Mary hears that He’s out there and goes running out to Him, as well. The difference is, she falls at His feet. It seems like Mary’s position is most often at His feet, doesn’t it? But – this is the wild thing – she says the exact same thing to Jesus, that Martha did: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” But look at the difference in response – Jesus doesn’t offer her reassurance. Instead, He looks upon her weeping and He is moved and then He too weeps.
All my life, I have heard that He is moved by compassion for her pain – even the Jews watching said, “See how He loved him!” But, interestingly enough, the Hebrew says that He groaned in the Spirit and was troubled Himself. The word groaned means to stir to anger, to admonish strongly. HUH?!! I was just rolling this around in my mind when I began to wonder….
What if…what if someone I considered more dear to me than most questioned my words to them? What if they allowed themselves to be moved by the lies of the enemy to question my love for them? What if they were willing to believe the exact same thing that someone who knew me less believed? Would that not move me to be stirred to anger (not at Mary, but at the enemy)? Jesus knew what was coming. He knew that by returning to Bethany, that the Pharisees would be irked sufficiently to put Him to death. He knew that soon, He would be facing His greatest trial and in the midst of that, one who had shown her great love for Him was looking at Him with doubt. Would that not cause me to weep?
Then, as I pondered that, I was moved myself – and *I* wept. I know that I too have asked questions and doubted my Savior in ways that someone who has walked with Him so closely ought not to. Mary dealt with this in real time, but I have the benefit of His holy Word. Over and over and over again, I can seek out His words and “sit at His feet and learn of Him” – and yet I question.
At the exact moment where I would be tempted to walk in condemnation and stand in judgment of myself, I realize again what an incredible Savior I have – for He who has the right to judge me, does not. Instead, just like with Mary, He takes that which is dead in my life and gives it new breath. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!