Are you familiar with the story in John 11 when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead?
I used to summarize it this way: Jesus receives word that his friend Lazarus is very sick. Lazarus’ sisters want Jesus to come to see him, but Jesus waits two more days before heading their way. When He finally arrives, Lazarus has been dead for days and his sisters are distraught. But Jesus, knowing the plan all along, brings Lazarus back to life…all for the glory of God.
Obviously, that’s a crude, in-a-nutshell, summary of the foreshadowing of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
But yesterday morning, I realized there’s so much more to the story.
So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” John 11:5-7 NLT
Although Jesus loved them, He allowed them to walk through this time of grief and loss.
Not because He wanted to be mean, but because there was a purpose.
Although Jesus loves us, He allows us to walk through particular storms in life.
“Because there’s a purpose” is hard to swallow much of the time, especially if you are the one living in pain, sorrow, depression, loneliness, or some other trial. Believe me, I know.
Martha and Mary wouldn’t fully see the purpose until they saw Lazarus walk out of the tomb.
Like them, whatever the purpose may be in our trials often can’t be seen until we’ve made it to the other side. And sometimes, we may never see it if God was working it to reach someone else.
I particularly wonder about Mary and what she was thinking and feeling. Jesus was a close friend. She was drawn to Him and had sat at His feet listening and learning from Him when women weren’t encouraged to do that. (Luke 10:38-42) In her grief and deep loss at her brother’s death, I wonder if she might also have felt abandoned, not knowing why Jesus hadn’t come.
Perhaps she even asked the same question I’ve asked before…Where are you, Jesus?!? Why aren’t you here with me?
…she [Martha] went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:28-29, 32 ESV
Mary was distraught and desperate to see Jesus. I can relate—I’ve been there. You too?
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. John 11:33-35 ESV
Jesus, who allowed Lazarus’ family to go through the grief of his death, was greatly troubled. Having compassion for His friends and the pain they felt, feeling angry at the state of sin in the world, and knowing the joy that was to come…Jesus was deeply moved—to the point of tears. Jesus wept.
Jesus never left Mary in her sorrow. He was right there with her—just as He is with us in our sorrow and struggles.
The sin in the world today, compassion for our suffering, and knowing the joy to come…Jesus is moved and troubled, maybe still to the point of tears.
Mary and Martha had to walk through the grief before they could they see the resurrection of Lazarus.
They had to walk through the storm to see the miracle.
And we do too. We can’t get to the mountaintop without walking through the valley.______
The Book of John doesn’t describe the reactions when Lazarus walked out of the tomb after being dead for four days. We can only imagine the overwhelming awe and emotion they must have felt.
For Mary, who had sat at the feet of Jesus, her faith in Him had to have grown to level deeper than she could have dreamed—to a level deeper than she could explain to anyone else.
I want to be like Mary.
I want to sit at the feet of Jesus studying His Word.
I want unshakable trust in Him, even when I can’t see or hear Him, because I know He’s always with me.
I want to know that as I walk through the hardest times of my life, He walks with me…and at the other side He’ll show me the miracle.
I want to be like Mary.
[Photo credit 1: Stock photo: Dolmen / Photo credit 2: Stock photo: rainPhoto credit 3: Stock photo: Sad & Lonely]