November 30, 2021
Scripture: Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” John 11:39-40 ESV
Observation: In this emotionally rife story, John tells us about Jesus purposefully arriving in Bethany after his friend, Lazarus, had passed away four days earlier. Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, were exasperated over Jesus’ seeming tardiness. They could not fathom that their Lord and Savior had neglected to save their brother from death’s grip. Still, they trusted Jesus enough to speak boldly to him about their disappointment. And Jesus candidly reminded Martha that he is the Resurrection and the Life and all who believe in him will never die.
Then, deeply moved by the sincere sorrow of family and friends, Jesus also weeps and commands that they roll the stone away from Lazarus’ tomb. Martha, the practical one of the two sisters, questions the wisdom of this order, given that her brother’s body would wreak of decay. Jesus’ response? Believe, and you will see the glory of God (verse 40 above). And in one brief moment, Mary and the crowd would see Lazarus rise from the dead.
Takeaway: Once again, we see how our Gospel is upside down compared to our secular world. All of the sciences depend on seeing and observing to derive facts and laws. But do we follow this principle in all aspects of everyday life? Did we watch the mechanic competently service the jet before we boarded? Or did we assume they did so before we saw the aircraft safely rise into the sky? Sight unseen, we rely on many elements of our world to keep us safe and sound, whether it be a structurally fit bridge or the hands of a surgeon. And the outcome confirms our beliefs.
In this story, the one who is the “Resurrection and the Life” strengthens his disciples’ faith in him by revealing his power to raise the dead to life. After Jesus’ ascension, his disciples would remember this supernatural event and, stepping out in faith, would see the physically and spiritually dead rise to new life to the glory of God. For believing is seeing; we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Prayer: Father God, would you please help us mature in our faith, that we might believe that you can do the impossible and witness your glory.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling