Martha and Mary of Bethany are two of my favorite people in all of Scripture. I love them for so many reasons, and I feel a bit intimated trying to separate from their story just enough for one post. But they have been on my heart, so I will try.
Mary and Martha were sisters. They lived together in a town near Jerusalem. Now, one of my favorite Bible stories happened at their house when Jesus came to visit. There is a strong indication that He came to visit often. I know for sure that Mary and Martha were very comfortable around Jesus; that they were all close friends, and that they loved Jesus very much. The Bible speaks of His love for them, as well. That is so precious to me, and I so want to tell you more of that story, but I promise that I'll come back to it another day.
Today we will talk about death. And great love.
Mary and Martha had a brother named Lazarus. Lazarus and Jesus were close, as well. I can just picture the four of them spending a quiet evening together. I am so glad that Jesus had their love and fellowship to depend on while He lived here on earth. He didn't have much here, by His own choice. He was born in a barn to poor parents. Jesus said of Himself as an adult that "foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) His own people betrayed Him, and one of His own disciples turned Him in to have Him killed. So, it makes my heart happy that He had Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He knew that He would be loved on when He was with these friends.
One day, Lazarus became very sick. This story unfolds in John, chapter eleven. Mary and Martha were afraid that their brother would die, but they knew just what to do. They sent word to Jesus to tell him, saying "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." (vs3) Jesus sent them word back not to worry; that this sickness would not result in death, but was "for the glory of God". (vs4)
So Jesus didn't go to Bethany. Instead, He was discussing things with His disciples (vs8-16) when He told them that Lazarus had died! They were confused, as you and I surely would have been. Finally, Jesus went to Mary and Martha. It had been four days and Lazarus was already in the grave. The sisters were very upset. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she ran to Him before He even got into their town and poured her heart out to Him. Their conversation went like this:
"Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (vs21-26)
Then, Martha ran back to the house and secretly called for Mary to come. Martha took her to see Jesus. When Mary saw Him, "she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." (vs32)
Now this is the part that I love so much. The Bible says that "when Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see." (vs33-34)
And then, this very famous verse: "Jesus wept."
Now I have heard it preached from many a pulpit that Jesus wept because He loved Lazarus so much. The next verse (vs36) says, "Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him (Lazarus)!" But the Jews said that. That's not what Jesus said. Now I will tell you what I believe. :)
Jesus allowed Lazarus to die for His purpose, just like He said. Death didn't upset Jesus. Besides, Jesus knew Lazarus wasn't going to stay dead. He was just about to bring him back to life! He wasn't grieving for Lazarus. At least, I don't believe He was. So why did He cry?
I believe Jesus wept for the same reason He groaned in the spirit and was troubled in verse thirty-three. I believe that He loved Mary and Martha so much that seeing them weeping and grieving as they were, moved Him with such compassion for them that He wept. He cried because they were in so much pain and He loved them so much.
He loved them SO much! Do you know how happy that makes me? He loves me like that, too! We are close, He and I. We've spend a lot of time alone together as of late. We have sweet fellowship. And He loves me like that! Glory!
Now if you believe that Jesus was weeping for Lazarus, you don't need to write me a mean message to straighten me out. God can do that in due time, if He so chooses. But until He does, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! :)
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