“21“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ,] the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
28And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34“Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
— John 11:21-35(NIV)
Here we have a story of a family torn apart like many of our families are by the death of a loved one. Lazarus was a friend of Jesus – so were Mary and Martha, his sisters – so of course Jesus would be upset at the loss of a loved one, a cherished friend. But look close at this text; you’ll see many of the same tendencies that we have when dealing with tragedy.
First, questioning: When Jesus arrives Martha greets him with the statement, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” The same thing we ask each time something doesn’t go our way – “Where are, or where were You, God?”
We wonder why the God of the universe has seemingly forgotten us in our time of need. We wonder how we are ever going to make it through the toughest part of the days ahead. We wonder if we will ever be back on our feet again.
Second, the Response: Jesus gives two responses to Martha, first – “Your brother will live again.” A promise that we know is true for each of us losing a loved one who was devoted to Christ – those who made their life goal their Father’s work. Jesus tells Martha of the gift of eternal life.
His second response – “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Jesus offers her the promise of life through him. The same promise that he shares with his followers a little later on; a promise we find in John 14:6 –
“6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.””
— John 14:6-7 (NIV)
We then see what breaks God’s heart, because we see what broke Jesus’ heart and what brought him to tears. “Jesus wept.” – One of the shortest yet most profound verses in the Bible…a verse that tells us what breaks the Heart of God. God’s heart is broken every time that one of His children hurts. When we mourn, God mourns with us…when our heart is broken, his breaks…His love for us is like that a husband has for his bride. His love is unconditional, and just as we hurt for those we love when they are hurting…God hurts the same way…
This is where we choose one of two options…we can choose to react in the same way as Martha, by saying, “Yes, Lord, I believe”; or we can choose to react with doubt as the skeptics did in the verses following:
37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
— John 11:37 (NIV)
It’s your choice…how do you respond? Do you believe that God is with you during the hard times? Do you believe that he is always with you? Do you believe that His heart is broken when yours is?
Or…do you do as the skeptics? Do you choose to break the heart of God even more by rejecting what He has to offer you? Do you question motives and blame God when something doesn’t go your way?
Which of these are you? Don’t become dissatisfied with the situation…don’t give up just because you didn’t get what you prayed for…because the promise that we have from God is that even if it doesn’t look like what we want…it is always what we need. Let God handle this one…you’ve got other things on your plate…
Plainly put…His heart breaks with you or because of you…you decide which it is…believe.