I have been slowly reading through the book of John with my Hello Mornings group this summer. I have loved this and have been learning so much about Jesus, His walk on earth and about His character.
I will be honest that I have struggled in the past reading the Bible on my own. I just find myself overwhelmed by it all and so as an excuse, stay away from really diving in and trying to understand it. This challenge has “forced” me (in a good way) to really study the verses and do my best to understand them. Then we share our thoughts as a group and my understanding and insight grows.
It has been just what I needed in this season of my life.
The past few days we have looked at the death and resurrection of Lazarus. (John 11:1-44) I have heard teachings on these verses before. One specifically was in the book “I Will Carry You” by Angie Smith. I don’t have the book with me so can’t quote her words verbatim, but the imagery stuck with me…and I am going to share it with you, so keep reading! 🙂
As we read in John, Lazarus is sick – John 1-3 “A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. This was the same Mary who massaged the Lord’s feet with aromatic oils and then wiped them with her hair. It was her brother Lazarus who was sick. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so very much is sick.”
This is a close friend of Jesus…and what is His response??
When Jesus got the message, he said, John 11: 4-7 “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for two more days. After the two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
His close friend is dying, and He waits.
As someone who has lost a best friend, I know the anguish of hearing the end was near and wanting to get on the first plane possible to be there….and yet He waits.
He waits, not because He doesn’t care, but because He can see a bigger outcome – one where God will be glorified.
By the time Jesus arrives to the home of Lazarus he has been dead and buried for four days. Martha gets word that Jesus is finally coming and “Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him.”
Here is where the imagery comes in….as I remember Angie writing she said that Martha ran to Jesus. Can you see her? A woman in her long robes, picking up her skirts and running to Jesus.
Is she hurting? Absolutely, her brother has just died and her Savior didn’t show up in time to save him.
Is she angry? My guess would be yes! I would be!!
But what is her response?
She runs TO Jesus.
She does question Him – John 11:21-22 “Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.”
but see Jesus’ response….so beautiful.
John: 25-26 “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.”
Is she upset and hurt, maybe angry and confused – YES!!
But she believes…all along she has believed.
Then Martha goes to get Mary, see her response – John 11: 28 After saying this, she went to her sister Mary and whispered in her ear, “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.”
29-32 The moment she heard that, she jumped up and ran out to him. Jesus had not yet entered the town but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When her sympathizing Jewish friends saw Mary run off, they followed her, thinking she was on her way to the tomb to weep there. Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Is she angry, upset, hurt? YES
But what is her response?
She runs TO Jesus.
As we all know this familiar story, we know the final outcome. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. God gets the glory.
But my takeaway from this study is the reactions of these beautiful women.
Of anyone, these are some of Jesus’ closest followers, they expected their brother would be saved because they had seen Jesus perform miracles. If for a stranger – of course for a close friend right?
And when things don’t go as they had planned they have a choice (don’t we all??!) and regardless of how they are feeling, they still choose to run to Jesus.
I wish I could say that my response was the same.
Unfortunately at times of great stress, I too get angry, I too question God – but instead of running TO Him – I run away. Convinced His love wasn’t available to me too. Choosing to remain in my bitterness and resentment of how things turned out, I shut out God in my life.
It isn’t pretty and it isn’t a place I ever want to remain long…if ever!
What I see from this example in John is how we can choose to respond.
Those situations of trials, death and loss and frustration WILL come. It is promised to us. John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Instead of running away, let’s follow the examples of Mary and Martha…. and when those troubles come……RUN Run to Him. Don’t shut God out but press into Him, rely on Him for strength and trust in the promise that He has overcome the world.