Monday, November 22, 2010

Mary and Martha’s Faith Is Defined by a Box

Last week we focused on John 11. I encourage you to read that chapter again, at least to verse 44. Take this time. It is for your benefit. Pray and ask God to open your eyes and mind to show you what you should believe, what you should learn, and what your response needs to be.

We discovered last week that Jesus waited two days before even starting His journey to see Lazarus, Martha and Mary. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus was in the tomb 4 days. Jesus was in Jerusalem 2 miles away from Bethany where Lazarus was sick and dying and yet Jesus stayed two more days and it took him 2 additional days to travel 2 miles. (Seem callous? Stay plugged in.)

Martha heard that Jesus was on His way, and she went to meet Him while Mary stayed home. Martha is once again “the doer.” She is a woman of action. She is also a woman of faith. In verse 21 and 22, “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Martha believe that if Jesus had just been present, He could have healed Lazarus, but now that Lazarus was dead and in the tomb 4 days, she believed that He could ask the Father for restoration and that God would provide.

Jesus’s response is simply that Lazarus will live again.

Martha has obviously been sitting at the feet of Jesus because she understood that Lazarus would rise on resurrection day. Martha confesses that she believes Christ is the Son of God, but she still doesn’t completely understand what Jesus is saying to her much like the disciples earlier in this chapter.

Now Martha goes back home and tells Mary that the Teacher is there and wanted to see her. It’s not written that He wanted to see Mary. Maybe Martha thought Mary would have a better chance of getting what they wanted if someone else talked to Jesus. We really don’t know.

Mary’s response? She bolted out of that house so quickly that the mourners who were there to comfort her thought she was running to the grave of Lazarus and ran after her. When Mary saw Jesus, she fell at His feet. In Luke 10:38-42, Mary was at Jesus’ feet listening. Now she is at Jesus’ feet again crying and telling Him of her hurt, “If you had just been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw Mary sobbing and the other mourners grieving the loss of Lazarus, Jesus was moved with compassion. The NIV says, “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” The crowd took Him to Lazarus’ grave, and Jesus wept. He wasn’t callous. He wasn’t heartless. He was moved by those who were grieving. He knew what the outcome was going to be, and that there would be rejoicing in a matter of moments, but He was with those who were hurting where they were.

Jesus then told them to remove the stone from the grave. Martha’s response? He stinks. He’s been dead for 4 days. Jesus insisted, and the stone was removed, and He began to pray. Read verse 41 and 42. Thank you.

In this glimpse into Mary and Martha, we see Martha has more knowledge than some of the disciples at that time, but she didn’t get the full understanding. She had faith. She was a believer, but she didn’t understand the magnitude of Jesus’ power. She knew He could heal, but didn’t know about His ability to raise the dead to life. How often do we put Jesus in a box because of our own limited knowledge or ability?

In Martha’s grief, she showed incredible faith and knowledge even though it was limited based in her humanity. Mary is a woman who is driven by her emotion, her conviction, yet she didn’t ask Jesus to raise Lazarus from the grave. Why?

Just like Martha and Mary too often we put Jesus into a box – a box that is defined with human definitions, confined by what we know by our own humanity, BUT GOD. Jesus may have been God in Flesh, but He knew His source was the Father and through Him all things are possible. God can’t fit into any box you have created. You have a problem or situation or a relationship you can’t get straight, think outside the box – GIVE IT TO GOD.

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