Despite the seriousness of the theme of this account, I do find many of the interactions rather comical. People seem to be speaking on different levels throughout. It’s almost as if no one hears what the other is saying.
- Mary and Martha are focused on Lazarus. The illness and death is all they see and hear
- The disciples are focused on the Pharisees and the fact that they are now targets.
- The Pharisees are focused on Jesus and what His rise to power and fame would mean for them.
- Jesus as always, is focused on doing the Father’s will. He continues to talk on the spiritual level while all those around Him focus on the temporal. Yet nothing the people say around Him changes His course. In fact, it is because He loves them that He does not deviate.
Consider the following: “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” This verse is very reminiscent of the word’s spoken just before the blind man’s healing. Isn’t this the same answer Jesus gave His disciples when they asked why the man was born blind? I would think that their curiosity would be peaked when they hear him say the exact same thing again. I would like to think that what would be going through my mind is, “I wonder what He is going to do this time…..?”
Have you also considered Thomas in this chapter? It’s easy to miss it, but oh so important not to….
” Let’s go and die with Jesus! ” That’s essential what He says. Super hero Thomas!
But is that what we remember him for?
Something to think about.
Janie had commented that she wondered why it was Martha, rather than Mary who had gone out to Jesus. I think this is something really significant too and I kept reading the passage over and over to figure out the dynamics going on between all the people in this account. I think the clue comes in verse 6, where it says,
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. ”
Think about that statement. Having lost lots of people I love in the last few years, I understand all too intimately what it is like to see someone sick and dying. It isn’t easy. In fact, it is down right the hardest thing we have had to go through. I can only imagine what I would feel, if my good friend and even more than that – the person I believe to be of God, doesn’t come when I call to them in my distress. Jesus knew Lazarus was sick. The sisters had sent for Him. And what did He do? He stayed where He was two more days. Is this what we would expect someone to do if we sent word that our loved one was dying? I really don’t think so.
Yet again, we
see Jesus doing the unexpected.
It says Jesus stayed away two more days, because He loved them. Doesn’t this too go against everything we think and we feel? Umm, I’m sad, I ask you to come, but because you love me, you stay away. It simply doesn’t make sense.
Have you considered what was going through the minds of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, when Jesus didn’t show up? What was Lazarus thinking and feeling about Jesus as he was taking his last breaths and his friend had not come to his side? The Scripture says that when they heard Jesus was coming, Mary remained seated in the house. When Mary finally did go to Jesus, she says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Have you considered her tone when she said that? Honestly, I think Mary was not just sad, but angry. “WHERE WERE YOU, JESUS IN OUR TIME OF NEED?! I WAS CALLING FOR YOU. WHY WEREN’T YOU HERE? WHY DID YOU ABANDON US?” And she wept bitterly. Have we ever been there?
Jesus’ response? He wept. Verses 33 and 38 both tell us how deeply moved and troubled Jesus was in His spirit. And I think I understand why. As I was praying and pondering and wondering about this chapter, we had an incident occur in our home. It is really a rather insignificant incident event in the grand scheme of life, but nonetheless, the timing of it helped me understand in a new way, why Jesus was so troubled and distressed in His spirit. You each know that I have been seeking a home for one of our cats. Well this week, things were coming to a head. They have been causing such turmoil around our home because of their inability to get along that I knew something had to be done right away. Friday morning, I asked ( no, begged) Mark to just pick a cat and take it to the store or the warehouse, anywhere but leave it here for another day. The trouble is that each cat belongs to one of our girls and I did not want to choose. We kept hoping we could find one of them a good and loving home to go to. I love the girls. I hate to cause them pain. I absolutely hate to see them cry. But something had to be done, and as the parents we had to choose. We had to make a hard decision because we knew what was best for our family in the long run. As soon as the cat was taken, the tears flowed. The girls’ and mine. I was so incredibly sad. And often, my sadness manifests itself as anger. “Why does it have to be so difficult? Why me? Why do we have to go through these things…… on and on. Kind of like what we see in Mary above.
“WHERE WERE YOU, JESUS IN OUR TIME OF NEED?! I WAS CALLING FOR YOU. WHY WEREN’T YOU HERE? WHY DID YOU ABANDON US?”
And so, my struggle with our cats on the very same day I was reading chapter 11, gave me insight into that shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus wept. I wept that day too. I grieved for the pain my decision was causing my children. I knew it was the right thing to do. Yet I wept. I wept with them. I wept for them. I hurt because they hurt. And so, I believe, Jesus wept, because He loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus so much. He knew that His decision to stay away two more days, caused them great pain. He could have gone there to heal Lazarus. He could have saved them from a lot of unnecessary emotions, because He knew Lazarus would live. But He didn’t do that. Instead, for the glory of God, He followed the will of the Father. He did what was right, even though doing it was hard. And His spirit wept in anguish because His friends suffered. They suffered the pain we must all suffer because death entered the world. They suffered because they felt abandoned by God. They suffered because they did not understand Jesus, even when He was telling them what He was going to do. Aren’t we like this? We wonder where God is? We wonder if His plan is really the best? We don’t trust His plan to be the best plan.
God is moved to tears and distressed when those He loves are distressed. I don’t think I ever really thought about God that way. He hurts for His children the way I hurt for mine. He doesn’t love to push the big red button for the fun of it, just like I don’t like to discipline our children, for the fun of it. But he does go after those buttons, because they are what we need to deal with. Don’t we discipline our children to keep them on the right path? I think we have all heard the saying, “this is going to hurt me a lot more than it is going to hurt you…” Well, it’s true, isn’t it parents? How many of us just jump at the chance to discipline our children? Instead, don’t we usually hear warning after warning, “I’m going to count to three.” Or, “if I have to ask you one more time…” And we look for ways to get out of disciplining…. We often fail to love the way Jesus loved. We fail to say what needs to be said. We fail to do what needs to be done. The world’s definition of love is mushy, gushy feel goody.
I think we so stubbornly hold to our notion of love that we have a really hard time recognizing Jesus’ actions as loving.
But Jesus loves us perfectly.
He doesn’t shrink away from doing what is needed.
He models for us what love really is and if we want to walk as Jesus walked, we have to learn to love as Jesus loves.
Have you considered too, what Jesus must have felt standing in front of a tomb and asking them to roll the stone away? Imagine what we would feel, knowing what our impending death would be like? I think it is so easy to just think, like we do with the account of Lazarus, that Jesus knew the happy ending, so dying was so much easier for him. But was it? He was fully man and fully God. The imagery in this chapter is such amazing foreshadowing of what He was soon going to experience himself. He knew He was going to suffer horribly. He knew He would be laid in a tomb, probably much like the one He was standing in front of. And, He knew the stone would be rolled away. And though God knew the happy ending, the earth shook and the sky blackened the moment Jesus died.
And God wept.