Text: John 11:1-44
“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces.” —Isaiah 25:8
Have you ever felt like God was holding out on you? Martha might’ve felt that way after her brother had died.
The text tells us that Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary, and their brother Lazarus. They spent a great deal of time and fellowship together. But when a crisis hit, Jesus didn’t exactly rush upon the scene to prevent a tragedy. Lazarus fell ill, and instead of sweeping in with a miraculous healing, Jesus tarried a few days before coming. Lazarus ended up dying and Jesus didn’t even get there in time for the funeral!
To make sure that the readers of this story don’t misconstrue Martha and Mary for not having enough faith to receive a miracle, the Bible makes it clear that these were full-fledged worshipers and devoted disciples (John 11:2). If any folks were worthy of a miracle, you’d think it would be these sisters who followed Jesus so faithfully. But it seemed like Jesus was holding out on them.
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” Martha laments to Jesus after he finally shows up. Why did Jesus delay in coming and allow a friend whom He loved so dearly to die? In Jesus’ response to Martha, we get one of the most precious verses of hope and promise. Jesus said in John 11:25-26…
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
As all the others who had been grieving gathered together at the tomb where Lazarus lay, Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” Then He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out,” and “the man who had died came out.”
I don’t know what you may be going through in this moment, or how it will all pan out; yet one thing of which I am certain is that Jesus does know. He even knows the pain in the process as He weeps with us (John 8:35). He isn’t late as you might suppose, but He is surely sovereign over the timeline of your life. His timing is always perfect. Inevitably, you will see that whatever has “died” in your life will be raised again to redemption and glory. In that moment, Jesus will also rejoice with you as He has wept with you.
Martha wanted healing; Jesus wanted resurrection. His plans are always so much bigger than ours. His disciples learned that lesson after their plans were shattered at Christ’s crucifixion. They wanted to save Jesus from the cross, yet He purposed to destroy the power of sin and death through the cross. We do well to remember that the resurrection of Jesus changes the face of death for all His people. Death is no longer a last word, but a passage into God’s presence. Easter reminds us that you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.
God, you are to be praised. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus you have destroyed once and for all the sting of death. No longer is the grave the end, but it has become the womb for birthing the greatest of all miracles—a restored fellowship with YOU and a total victory over all that is in this world. Thank you for the salvation afforded to us through the resurrected Christ.
Questions for Reflection, Small Group or Family Discussion:
- What do the people you know fear most in life?
- What sort of miracle would be the most spectacular to witness?
- Under what circumstances have you doubted the power of God?
- How did Jesus show Martha the importance of her faith? (John 11:40)
- What specific situation do you need to trust God to work out in your life?
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