Summary: We all have emotions as did Jesus, Mary and Martha.
Text: Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).
When that verse is isolated one gets the feeling that Martha is casting blame on Jesus because His absence brought about the death of her brother Lazarus. You can almost feel the emotion of sadness or sorrow in Martha’s words.
This type of thinking takes place when Scripture is taken out of context; that is, not reading and taking into consideration what comes before the verse and what follows the verse.
If we go back and start reading the eleventh chapter of John from the beginning, we find that Lazarus was sick. We do not know the exact kind or type of sickness, but nevertheless he was sick. Lazarus had two sisters; namely, Mary and Martha. The three of them were a very close knit family that lived in Bethany.
Bethany is located approximately 2 miles from Jerusalem and Jerusalem is where Jesus usually stayed when He was in the area. Lazarus, Mary, Martha and Jesus were very good friends and they spend a great deal of time together,
As we know, a close family spends quality time with each other because they care and they are special to one another. There are families we know that do things together; enjoy one another, share views, help each other and are very concerned about the welfare of each other. The bond that holds these families together is the bond of love.
If something happens to one of the family members or one of them becomes sick, the entire family hurts. The other people in the family want to do everything they possible can to help the one who is hurting.
Friendships work the same way. When friends are afflicted with illness or sickness, our sympathy goes out to them because we can feel the pain and agony they are experiencing.
Mary and Martha knew that Jesus was not far away. He was no farther away from them than He is from us today. They loved their brother Lazarus and they also loved Jesus. They wanted Jesus to know that Lazarus was sick just as when we are sick or one of our loved ones is sick, we want our close friends to know. Today, we notify our friends via email or we telephone them asking them to lift up our loved one in prayer.
Martha and Mary knew Jesus could help their brother. If we stop and think for a moment, we will realize that things haven’t changed. When we are hurting, in need, or are facing a mountain that seems impossible for us to go over, go around, or tunnel through, to whom to we turn. Jesus! Right! We seek Jesus through our prayers because we know He is always near and ready and willing to listen and come to our aid.
What we sometimes forget is that Jesus’ timing is not the same as ours. We must exhibit patience and be willing to accept His answer to our prayer. His answer or His response is always better than what we expect or what we deserve. Jesus did not rush right over to help Lazarus when He received these words from Mary and Martha: “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” (John 11:3).
There is no question concerning the love Jesus had for Lazarus, Mary and Martha (v. 5), but His timing was different. Scripture says, “He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (v. 6). Jesus was being obedient to His Father. His actions were being directed by God the Father. The lesson for us here is that we can never go wrong when we are obedient to the Word of God.
Did the sisters understand why Jesus did not respond immediately? I don’t think so. Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus was asleep, but they thought He was talking of normal sleep. He had to come right out and say to them “Lazarus is dead” (John 11:14).
The sisters as well as their friends were emotionally upset as Lazarus suffered through his sickness, but when he died, they joined together in mourning and tried to comfort one another. (v. 19)
This is exactly what we do when a loved one or a friend departs this world. Our emotions change from happiness to sadness because we no longer enjoy the presence of the loved one. We cry with each other and remember the good times we had together with our loved one. We try to smile and be happy, but we feel the loss.
When Martha received the news that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. She was still sad and distraught or distressed. Martha thought nothing could be done because of the time lapse, but Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23).