Summary: This passage follows our last study when we looked at the purpose of Lazarus’ death. Tonight’s passage is a dynamic conversation between Jesus and Martha. What happened caused an increase in Martha’s faith. Anyone with a seeking heart that studies this
Tonight we look at John 11 verses 17-27. This passage follows our last study when we looked at the purpose of Lazarus’ death. Tonight’s passage is a dynamic conversation between Jesus and Martha. What happened caused an increase in Martha’s faith. Anyone with a seeking heart that studies this passage will see their faith grow as well.
READ 17-20. The scene was Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem about 2 miles away. When Jesus arrived, someone told Him that Lazarus had already been buried for 4 days. Jesus didn’t actually enter the city of Bethany. He stayed on the outskirts of the city. Just why, we are not told. Maybe the large crowd following Him was too big to crowd into the city, or maybe He was simply avoiding those who were bitterly opposed to him. There was a huge number of mourners who had come to comfort the family, and some of these were opposed to Jesus as we will see in v. 46.
Whatever the reason for remaining on the outskirts of the city, Jesus apparently sent a messenger to tell Martha that He had arrived. As soon as she heard, she left the house and ran out to meet Him. But Mary stayed at home.
Many sermons have been written over the contrast between Martha and Mary. Martha was the woman of action and energy, so she was the one who went out to meet Jesus. Mary was the contemplative and meditative one, so she remained at home to receive the mourners.
READ 21-22. So Martha goes straight to the preacher to complain. In her complaining to Jesus she shows limited faith in Him. She believed in Jesus. She even believed that Jesus could have healed Lazarus and kept him from dying. But you might remember from our last study that Jesus didn’t come immediately when He was called; so her brother died.
Why didn’t Jesus come when He was called? We talked about that in our last study and said that we were being taught to wait upon the Lord and that everything is in HIS timing, not ours. This waiting before he went all tied in to the fact that Lazarus’ death was to bring glory to God.
Why didn’t Jesus heal Lazarus when Martha and the family loved Jesus so much and had done so much for Him?
Why did He let Lazarus die?
The point is this: Martha did believe in Jesus, but her faith was a complaining faith. How many of you have a complaining faith? Martha didn’t believe to the point of resting in faith. She didn’t believe with an unlimited and resting faith. She was not entrusting the matter completely into the Lord’s hands. She wasn’t yet convinced that what had happened was for the best. She trusted Jesus as her Savior, but she questioned what had happened. She complained and even reproached Jesus.
A complaining faith is a limited faith. It’s a faith that questions Jesus’ Lordship
• That questions if Jesus has done what is best.
• That questions if Jesus even knows what is best.
It says to Jesus, “If you had been here, if you had acted differently, if you had done this or that, then this trial wouldn’t have happened.” Note that Martha was convicted immediately for having complained and reproached Jesus. She blurts out in v. 22 (READ).
But even here her limited faith shows itself. She didn’t say, “Lord, I know that you can do anything you will.” She said, “God will give you whatever you ask.” She was still limiting Jesus to some level below God. She still had not grasped that Jesus Himself was the Resurrection and the Life. She had a complaining, limited faith in Jesus.
READ 23-24. Here we see Martha’s fundamental faith. Jesus said in v. 23 (READ). He couldn’t have made it clearer. Lazarus was to arise from the dead. Martha misunderstood. She thought Jesus meant that Lazarus would arise in the resurrection at the last day.
Martha had that fundamental faith. She believed in the resurrection. She believed what Jesus had taught. But Martha’s fundamental faith experienced disappointment. The promise of a future resurrection and reunion is not always a comfort. Her loved one was gone NOW. There was now no contact and no relationship with him, not on this earth.
Everything about her life was now completely changed. Her household was radically different. She believed in the resurrection and believed in all the fundamentals of the faith, but the resurrection was so far in the future that it was of little comfort to her then.
The point is this: a fundamental faith is essential. A person must believe in the fundamental of the faith, but a fundamental faith is short. It’s not all there is to faith and to our life in Christ. It’s not a living faith. And every person needs what Martha needed: a living faith, a faith that is alive and vibrant, dynamic and moving. We need the knowledge that Jesus is the resurrection and the life.