When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
John 11:20-22, 38-40
Ah, Martha. Let’s not rush past her just yet.
Last week we learned that Martha felt safe with Jesus. She trusted Him enough to reveal the messy side of her nature to Him.
Martha even had a measure of faith that most Jews didn’t possess; she firmly stated her belief in the final resurrection of the dead.
Though she was disappointed in Jesus’ seeming lack of compassion when her brother was ill, she expressed a measure of faith that Jesus could still “do something”...
Yet, in a matter of minutes, her measure of faith showed its limitation.
When Jesus asked for the stone to be removed from Lazarus’ grave, reality rose to the surface.
Lazarus had been in there for four days: long enough for decay to set in; long enough for his soul to have departed (Jewish religion believed that on the fourth day following death the soul ventured away from the body); long enough for the “stink” to be bad!
Ever felt a measure of belief, only to realize that it was stunted by a reality check?
I, most definitely, have.
I often come up lacking in this department.
Like Martha, it is easier to believe in the BIGGER MIRACLE of eternal life and resurrection at the last day, but, then, find myself coming up short on the “smaller” miracle of raising the current "dead" that surrounds my life.
For example, I don’t question my eternal life, or the “life-after-death” of my loved ones who are “in Christ,” but I do question whether the Lord will “raise up” dreams that have died, or a plan that has been taken away prematurely.
I don’t question that Jesus is “the resurrection and the life,” but is He the resurrection of marriages which have lost their “soul”?
Is He the restorer of “life” to the areas of my life that seem to be decaying before my eyes?
Can He make perfume out of the things that absolutely stink about my life?
I’m guessing I’m not the only one who wonders this...
Yet, I think this story is here to remind us that He cares.
Jesus weeps with us for the things that are lost to us, the death of dreams, the vanished hopes, and the demise of comfort, satisfaction, and/or pleasure.
He longs to show us His glory...if we believe.
Someone once told me "the outcome of belief is always a revelation of the glory of God."
So...say it out loud:
He wants to reveal the glory of God; and, He wants to show us that He is still Lord over the grave...any grave.
So, my response to this aspect of Martha’s life is to do what the desperate father (whose dreams for his son were slowly dying) did when he stood before Jesus:
Immediately, the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
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