Whenever I read of Jesus’ friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Scripture, I know that life-changing lessons are written between the lines – if I can but discern them.
Thank God for great men and women of faith who have written commentaries and devotionals, to help others discover those lessons.
Most recently, I’ve been thankful for the writing of Joanna Weaver, in a book I’ve mentioned recently: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (linked here).
In a study of the death and resurrection of Lazarus, Weaver points out that Martha’s faith has grown since we met her working in the kitchen, demanding that Mary help her, instead of listening at the Master’s feet.
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. – Luke 10:40-42
After the death of Lazarus, when Martha meets Jesus on the road, we hear her increased faith in her first words to Jesus.
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. – John 11:20, 21
Though Martha is hoping for a miracle of some kind, it seems that she does not believe that Jesus will actually raise her brother from the dead that day.
After all, who would?
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. – John 11:23, 24
Martha’s words reveal a faith in Jesus based upon all that she had seen him do as the Messiah, and upon all that she was certain he would do in the future.
But although she loved and trusted Jesus, she lacked faith in him for that moment.
Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? – John 11:39, 40
Jesus’ response to Martha grabbed my heart!
Like Martha, I’ve had faith based upon what I have seen the Lord do in my life, and in the lives of my family and friends.
Faith in hindsight is easy.
And, I have faith in a general way for the future, particularly as I pray for my children’s future. I know God will lead them according to his will, and provide for them.
But, like Martha, my faith often falls short in the immediate moment.
I lack on-the-spot faith.
How are you going to fix this, Lord? How do you want me to handle this? Because I just can’t see a way out. I can’t solve this problem…meet this need…help this person…accomplish this task.
I hope that the next time an apparently unsolvable issue occurs in my life, I will remember Jesus’ response to Martha in John 11:40: “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”
Do you ever struggle with on-the-spot faith? What do you feel we can learn from the account of Lazarus’ resurrection? I welcome your thoughts.