“Now when Jesus came, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “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?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”” (John 11:17–27, ESV)
Lazarus died and the people came to console Mary and Martha. In fact, we read that many of the Jews had come from nearby Jerusalem to comfort them in their time of grieving. But the one person they had asked to come prior to Lazarus’ death still had not come, and when Martha heard that He was on His way she went out to meet him leaving Mary behind most likely with the other guests. When Martha met Jesus she confronted Him in some way with the words that were likely filled with hurt and disappointment, “Lord, if you had been here….” These are emotion packed words. They imply that things would have been different if that person would have been there. The events that occurred would have taken a different path and the outcomes would have changed.
Martha went on to say, what she thought the outcome would have been if Jesus had arrived on time, and that was that He would have been able to prevent his death. Martha had huge faith in the power of Jesus to restore health. She had no doubts that He had the ability to bring him back to full health. But she also knew that Jesus did not come, and as such He was not there to heal Lazarus, and her brother died. Having said this, Martha also evidenced that her faith extended past death. Martha knew that Jesus was from God. She knew that He had a special relationship with God such that if Jesus asked anything of Him it would be granted, and this is what she told Him.
In response Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again. This was a statement that Martha could fully accept. While it did not bring Him back right away, Martha believed in the resurrection of those who belonged to God. She had been taught that on the last day there would be a resurrection to life, and she had the full confidence that her brother would be a part of this.
Martha, having affirmed her belief in the resurrection did not fully grasp that Jesus Himself had the ability to give life. In line with this Jesus went on to say to her, “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?” Jesus took her comments about God resurrecting man to life, and said that He Himself was that resurrection and life. Through Him believers would be granted eternal life and guaranteed resurrection from the dead. Jesus told her that He was the source of life, and that anyone who believed in Him would never die. Then he asked her, “Do you believe this?”
Martha got it! She responded to Jesus, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” She knew He was more than a man. She saw Him as more than her Lord, Master, and Teacher. She proclaimed in response that she believed Him to be the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world. She affirmed that she knew He was the One the prophets spoke about that God had promised. He was the One. He not only had a connection with God, He was God become man and He had the power to do all that He said.
This woman who was morning her brother knew that if her friend had come He had the power Himself to keep her brother alive. She believed that through Him her brother was guaranteed eternal life. But she had not yet put together His power or His intention for the in between. At that time she was mourning the loss of her brother, and though she believed all of these things she still had not put together how He was go to demonstrate His power for her in the here and now.
I find there are times when living in the here and now can be a real struggle. I know without any doubt that I am saved and have been already given eternal life. This was accomplished fully at the time I trusted in God’s Son for my salvation. I know that one day all of the struggles I experience now will also melt away when my body is either packed away through death or I am transformed at His coming. At that time I will enter His presence and there will be an incredible fullness of joy. But there are the times when I don’t really live or think as if I believe God can and will do incredible things right here and now. Martha was about to see the power of God to deal with her here and now in the most incredible way ever demonstrated. And as I think about this I have to remind myself that there is absolutely nothing that God cannot do.