Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mary and Martha and Their Brother's Death

The Death of Lazarus

John 11

1A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in the town of Bethany, where
Mary and her sister Martha lived. 2Mary was the woman who later put perfume
on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. Mary’s brother was Lazarus, the
man who was now sick. 3So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, “Lord,
the one you love is sick.”

4When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not end in death. It is for
the glory of God, to bring glory to the Son of God.”
5Jesus loved Martha and her
sister and Lazarus. 6But when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he
was for two more days. 7Then Jesus said to his followers, “Let’s go back to

8The followers said, “But Teacher, the Jews there tried to stone you to death
only a short time ago. Now you want to go back there?”

9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in
the daylight, he will not stumble, because he can see by this world’s light.
if anyone walks at night, he stumbles because there is no light to help him see.”

11After Jesus said this, he added, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I
am going there to wake him.”

12The followers said, “But Lord, if he is only asleep, he will be all right.”

13Jesus meant that Lazarus was dead, but his followers thought he meant
Lazarus was really sleeping. 14So then Jesus said plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15And
I am glad for your sakes I was not there so that you may believe. But let’s go to
him now.”

16Then Thomas (the one called Didymus) said to the other followers, “Let us
also go so that we can die with him.”

Jesus in Bethany

17When Jesus arrived, he learned that Lazarus had already been dead and in
the tomb for four days. 18Bethany was about two miles from Jerusalem. 19Many
of the Jews had come there to comfort Martha and Mary about their brother.

20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but
Mary stayed home. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my
brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you
anything you ask.”

23Jesus said, “Your brother will rise and live again.”

24Martha answered, “I know that he will rise and live again in the
resurrection on the last day.”

25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in
me will have life even if they die.
26And everyone who lives and believes in me
will never die. Martha, do you believe this?”

27Martha answered, “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of
God, the One coming to the world.”

Jesus Cries

28After Martha said this, she went back and talked to her sister Mary alone.
Martha said, “The Teacher is here and he is asking for you.” 29When Mary heard
this, she got up quickly and went to Jesus. 30Jesus had not yet come into the town
but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31The Jews were with Mary
in the house, comforting her. When they saw her stand and leave quickly, they
followed her, thinking she was going to the tomb to cry there. 32But Mary went to
the place where Jesus was. When she saw him, she fell at his feet and said,
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33When Jesus saw Mary crying and the Jews who came with her also crying,
he was upset and was deeply troubled. 34He asked, “Where did you bury him?”

“Come and see, Lord,” they said.

35Jesus cried.

36So the Jews said, “See how much he loved him.”

37But some of them said, “If Jesus opened the eyes of the blind man, why
couldn’t he keep Lazarus from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus

38Again feeling very upset, Jesus came to the tomb. It was a cave with a large
stone covering the entrance. 39Jesus said, “Move the stone away.”

Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, “But, Lord, it has been four days
since he died. There will be a bad smell.”

40Then Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see
the glory of God?”

41So they moved the stone away from the entrance. Then Jesus looked up and
said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. 42I know that you always hear me,
but I said these things because of the people here around me. I want them to
believe that you sent me.”
43After Jesus said this, he cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with
pieces of cloth, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take the cloth off of him and let him go.”

The Plan to Kill Jesus

45Many of the Jews, who had come to visit Mary and saw what Jesus did,
believed in him. 46But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what
Jesus had done. 47Then the leading priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the
Jewish council. They asked, “What should we do? This man is doing many
miracles. 48If we let him continue doing these things, everyone will believe in
him. Then the Romans will come and take away our Temple and our nation.”

49One of the men there was Caiaphas, the high priest that year. He said, “You
people know nothing! 50You don’t realize that it is better for one man to die for
the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”

51Caiaphas did not think of this himself. As high priest that year, he was
really prophesying that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation 52and for God’s
scattered children to bring them all together and make them one.

53That day they started planning to kill Jesus. 54So Jesus no longer traveled
openly among the Jews. He left there and went to a place near the desert, to a
town called Ephraim and stayed there with his followers.

55It was almost time for the Jewish Passover Feast. Many from the country
went up to Jerusalem before the Passover to do the special things to make
themselves pure. 56The people looked for Jesus and stood in the Temple asking
each other, “Is he coming to the Feast? What do you think?” 57But the leading
priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where Jesus was,
he must tell them. Then they could arrest him.

The Holy Bible, New Century Version

When Lazarus died and Martha learned that Jesus was coming, she hurried to meet Him, while Mary stayed in the house, Martha expressed great faith in Christ, saying that “even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (11:22). While Martha did not think that Jesus was about to restore her brother’s life, she was certain that whatever He asked, God would surely do.

It is helpful to compare the two sisters’ responses in John 11 when Jesus finally came.

When we compare the dialogue, the bulk of Jesus’ recorded conversation was with Martha rather than Mary. We also see that while both expressed faith in Jesus, Martha’s expressed faith went beyond that of her sister in affirming that Jesus could act “even now” (John 11:22).

At the same time Martha was not fully aware of what she had affirmed. When Jesus called for the stone that blocked the entrance to Lazarus’s tomb to be taken away, Martha objected. She reminded Jesus that her brother’s body had started to decay.

How like Martha most of us are. We have faith in Jesus – even great faith. Yet when we are called on to exercise that faith in impossible situations, we focus on the obstacles rather than on God’s unlimited ability to act.

Martha and Mary had faith enough, and Jesus had power enough; Lazarus was restored. What makes all the difference is not the amount of faith we have in Jesus, but the fact that our faith is in Jesus.

(From Every Woman in the Bible by Sue and Larry Richards).

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