On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “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.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again. Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “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. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come unto the world.” -John 11:17-27
Martha meets Jesus before He enters the village and her words are an affirmation of faith in Jesus’ healing ability. Despite what she says, she likely does not expect Jesus to raise Lazarus from death since she objects when Jesus wants to roll back the tomb. Instead, she is expressing faith, not wanting to imply any criticism of Jesus since He was not in Bethany to rescue her brother. Martha’s words could be paraphrased, “If you had been here, you COULD have healed Lazarus.” Her words were not of reproach but of regret – had Jesus made it in time, her brother would have lived.
Nevertheless, she still believed in Him. Similarly, it would be like us saying to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t know why You didn’t come when I first prayed.
I know that with You all things are possible, but I choose to trust in You and know that the outcome is in Your hands and that it will be the best for me.” Jesus pushes Martha to a second, deeper level of discussion. Your brother will rise again. (11:23) Martha understood on one level, based on the Jewish belief in the end time resurrection, that Lazarus would enjoy eternal life. However, Martha misses the more immediate application Jesus has in mind. His correction leads to one of the most famous and significant “I am” sayings in John’s gospel: “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.” When Jesus asks her “do you believe this?” He is asking her if her faith can embrace a belief in Jesus – lordship over death itself. Her response, however, shows us that she doesn’t completely get it.
We are often just like Martha. We want to believe that Jesus is all that He says He is, but our minds defy the supernatural love and power of God through Christ. We want to believe that He is the resurrection and the life, but the circumstances of our lives seem to contradict this truth.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8)
He raised Lazarus from physical death, and He is able to raise us from the shroud of death that defies the life of Christ in us. Where do you need to see the life of Christ in your own life? What has died that you desire to see Him resurrect – a relationship, a promise unfilled? Ask the Lord to bring what seems to be dead back to life. He is the resurrection and the life.
I had given up hope in ever seeing (fill in blank) come to life. I look to You as the resurrection and the life and ask You to rekindle life. I give You my hopelessness and ask that You impart new life and hope in me.
In Jesus’ name, Amen