Summary: Sometimes we as Christians get distracted by things in our lives. This sermon takes a look at Mary's statement of belief in Jesus and then withdrawing from that statement when she is distracted by her surroundings.
When I was in 6th grade all of my friends were getting girlfriends and I wanted to have one too. The only problem was that all the girls I liked already had a boyfriend. There was one girl that ran around in the same group as I did and her name was Tina. I remember Tina very well, she wasn’t overly pretty but she wasn’t really ugly either and I was desperate for a girlfriend so I asked her if she would be mine. She said yes and I was really excited even though I didn’t really know what to do next. I knew that boyfriends and girlfriends hung out and talked on the phone so that is what we did. I remember one of the first few nights we were going out we were talking on the phone and she said, “I love you.” What? How in the world can she say she loves me, I don’t even know what that is. It made me feel a little weird that she had said that but we said goodbye and hung up the phone. I was thinking that this girl really liked me but I just liked her a little, I mean, she was just someone I picked because no one else was available. I went to school the next day feeling a little strange about our conversation the night before and not really sure I wanted a girlfriend anymore…that is when it happened. We were talking with our friends at recess and one of them asked, “Are you two going out?” She looked right at them, then at me, then back at them and said, “No, we are just friends.” What?! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, what do you mean we are just friends. I didn’t say anything and they all walked off, obviously satisfied with her answer. When they left she said, “We can just tell people we are friends but we are really going out.” My heart was broken. The girl who I didn’t even like that much had just completely devastated me as a 12 year old little boy. I thought we were truly boyfriend and girlfriend, apparently she had thought that also at one point, but she had moved away from that thinking back into the “friend mode.”
I want to talk to you today about a scenario very much like this that happened to Jesus.
The text for what I want to talk about today comes from John 11.28-37 (NIV)–
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?"
Let’s set the story here. Jesus had just gone through the ordeal of healing the man who had been born blind. There were the accusations about him working on the Sabbath and the blind man and his parent’s encounters with the Pharisees. This all led to Jesus discourse on the good shepherd and his sheep. Through all of this, the Pharisees continue to hate Jesus more and more and are seeking to arrest him. Jesus even had some of “the Jews” try to stone him. It is right after this that Jesus hears that Lazarus is sick and going to die. Rather than go immediately to Bethany, where Lazarus was from, he said that he would go later. When he was questioned by his disciples he explained, “And for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him” (John 11.14). While they were on their way to Bethany, Martha had heard that Jesus was coming so she went out to meet them. After she had spoken with Jesus she went to get Mary and that is where we pick up on the story.