I was amazed this morning, to realize that I'd read this chapter many times, yet somehow managed to miss so very much; things that would not only improve the quality of my physical life, but would add real substance to my sometimes lukewarm life. Perhaps these are things you may have missed too. I pray that if, like me, you missed these points, that reading them now will cause you to rethink how you live your days.
Lazarus was very sick. Mary (the one who who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair), and her sister Martha, both being extremely concerned about their brother, sent word to Jesus, saying "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick). verse 3.
Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. But when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he did not depart to Bethany from Jerusalem, which was only about two miles away, but remained where he was for two days. When he did go to Bethany, he found that Lazarus had lain in the grave four days already.
Martha, upon hearing he was coming, went to meet him; was agitated, grieving deeply, not slow to empty out the pain within her heart. The first words out of her mouth when she saw Jesus were not "How are you?" were not "I'm so glad you're here. " No...the words that came out of her mouth were heavy with pain- and I'm quite certain, laced with a bit of resentment and frustration. She said " Lord, If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, (showing her faith in spite of her grief), whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee."
Mary, grieving as deeply as Martha, did not go to meet Jesus, but sat still (my Bible reads). in her home. Still, to me, in this sense, means numb with grief. When reading this for the very first time, I remember wondering why Mary, loving Jesus so much, hadn't run to meet him. But...back to Martha now:
"Thy brother shall rise again." Jesus says to Martha.
"I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."Martha replies.
Jesus said unto her "I AM the resurrection...."
I used capital letters for the word Am because that is how it appeared when I read them this morning.
Those four words are something I missed, though I read them many, many times. Having them sink in THIS time was almost like being newly baptized. We think of the resurrection and think of receiving eternal life. But what we overlook sometimes, what we fail to get from His words is the awesome reality of His Words, the Truth in them, that in HIM we have LIFE. Without Him we cease to be. Before He became Lord of my heart and life I did not live...but existed. After baptism, I came out of the water filled with JOY i'd never experienced in my previous life.. Amazing! I live- move- and breathe, because I am HIS.
Now back to Mary:
Mary, now having left the house, was followed by the Jews who had been comforting her, believing she was going to the grave. When Mary saw Jesus, she fell down at his feet, saying "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews weeping, which came with her, he groaned in his spirit, and was troubled (verse 33).
verse 35 says "Jesus wept."
Powerful words "Jesus wept." Everybody reading them has their own opinion as to why he wept. Some say because he loved Lazarus so much. Some say because of death, though death to Jesus is nothing. He is LIFE, which is one reason I no longer fear death. I personally believe that he wept for the living; for those who were hurting, agonizing over what their life has become- desperately wanting to change- to possess something better. I think He wept then, just as He weeps now, over you and me, and all those in our world who hurt so much, who struggle to understand what is beyond their comprehension. I think he wept because his love for mankind runs so deep.He brought Lazarus forth from the grave, gave him life again. And one day he will do
the same for you and me...and that day is not to far off.
I skipped around a bit on this post, am writing it as it flows in my mind. It is how I remember things that are important to me.
Two things I learned in this chapter that will improve the quality of my life are:
1- That not all of us are like Mary (quiet, shy, loves the truth, needs to spend a lot of time at the Lord's feet). Not all of us are like Martha ( positive, hospitable, assertive).
Remember when Jesus was visiting at their house? Remember how Mary sat at his feet, while Martha rushed here and there, doing all she could to take care of everybody?
Feeling frustrated because she too wanted time with Jesus, Martha asked him to tell Mary to help her.
Jesus did not rebuke Martha for wanting help. But instead explained that Mary needed this time with him. She had been abused, harmed in ways only Jesus could understand. What he was giving her, nobody else ever could.
Some of us are Mary's. We have been abused, tossed aside by our fathers, uncles, mothers, sisters, friends, etc. We have spent our lives feeling dirty, ashamed, totally lost and out of place. We need to sit long at the LORD'S feet, need that extra time and mentoring.
2- Some of us are like Martha. We're hospitable, outgoing, eager to be of service. But sometimes, like the Martha in the Bible, we forget how blessed we are, fail to remember, as Martha did how strongly rooted in the truth she already was, and what a solid relationship with Jesus she had.
We don't need to be Martha..nor just a Mary. What we need is to try to become a bit of both: To be quiet sometimes, become better listeners, like Mary. We need to spend more time at the Lord's feet, listening- rather than talking. We need to, after we've spent time at the Lord's feet, become more like Martha then. We can't take in all the Lord teaches us and keep it to ourselves; can't accept the blessings without sharing them- giving some away. We need to spend out all that the Lord puts in. It is only by loving as the Lord loves- by blessing as we are blessed, that lives are changed.
May the Lord richly bless you today. May you always know the honor of His presence,
the warmth of His love- the tightness of His embrace.
Love you much,