Summary: Some of the saddest words heard when at a visitation or funeral. We already have enough how can we get rid of ones we have or hold down the number in the future.
I have had a week filled with contemplation. I started thinking about the things I have wanted in Life. When I was a kid, I might say, If only I was older, I could watch Hogan’s Hero’s. It came on after 8PM. If only I had the right haircut or clothes, people would like me more. If only I had a better car, something besides a 1965 Rambler, I would be more popular. If only I had a better job, If only I made more money, If only I had a degree, If only I had more intelligence, If only I had more time…… IF ONLY - IF ONLY - IF ONLY
I have been trying to decide if it is a wish or regret. I guess it can be both. Sometimes one or the other. And all too often both at the exact same moment.
Let me share a little insight, I figured out that I am not the only one that has lived a life filled with IF ONLY-IES.
We see people saying that all the time.
Storm Victims – If only they left in time
Drivers – after an accident – If only they looked
Kids - after a test – If only I studied
Parents – If only they had done more
Our scripture today – picks up after Jesus has been notified that Lazarus is sick - For a messenger to be sent I think the message was deathly sick. Jesus does not respond immediately He delayed his return for two days. It does not tell us that he was busy with teaching or healing huge crowds. He just states that the illness will not END in death and that it is happening for the glory of God and His Son.
There are a couple of IF ONLYs in this story. However it is a different take.
Martha says it in Verse 21 "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
If You had been here. That is a rather emotional plea. It shows a fantastic amount of belief and faith.
But, doesn’t it put the blame of the death on Jesus. Is it an expression of disappointment in Jesus? Is it a problem with timing?
I would guess we have all had a similar set of emotions. It might have been about a physical problem or an accident when we felt alone. Perhaps we thought the situation could have been prevented. That is exactly Martha’s meaning.
-Let’s get the timing straight. The sisters send a messenger to where Jesus is staying. We can safely guess that the sisters knew where Jesus had gone. Jesus waits two days and then declares that Lazarus is dead and they head off to Bethany. When he arrives, Lazarus has been dead 4 days.
I would guess that the messenger got back 1 or 2 days ago. “Yes I told him the one you love is sick. And he told me that this would not end in death.” Obviously, Jesus was wrong, that he has misinterpreted the illness.
If Jesus had left with the messenger, He would have arrived two days earlier. I am not sure that is really any better. If his physical presence was required to save his friend. He would still ave been too late.
In this case he is 4 days late. The Jewish custom for funerals was to bury the dead on the day they died. The friends and family would come for 3 days of official morning. They believe that for three days the spirit would remain with - not necessarily in the body. The third day was the height of the physical morning and visitation.
Do you think that it was signifent that Jesus did not return until everyone believed that the soul had departed. The decomposition was well under way.
Let’s look at the discussion:
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, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
Martha seems to have knowledge that all things are possible and at the same time she places limits on what Jesus will ask God for….
She knows who Jesus is ..She has faith in his power, but her head knowledge has limits. Her faith is imperfect. And yet Jesus still responds and comforts.