“On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11.17-27
It takes some courage to rebuke Jesus. Peter did it once to which Jesus replied, “Get behind me Satan.” Others tried to do it and it didn’t seem to work out to well for them. Martha, though, comes and meets Jesus upon the road as he is coming up from the Jordan and the first thing she does is rebuke him saying– “If you had been here…this would not have happened.”
Although Martha loved Jesus there was some rebuke and criticism in her words. Words mixed with fear, anger and hopelessness. Words of human loss spoken to a dear friend who could have done something about it. Martha speaks not in hate but in her grief and was essentially saying, “Where were you Jesus. Why didn’t you come three days ago when we called for you. My brother is the one you loved yet you purposefully let him suffer and die. How could you do this to us? I thought you said you loved us,” (my interpretation).
And so Jesus arrives to this– a rebuke from a friend who doesn’t understand the whole picture. God is at work in this story in incredible ways. Through this, we will see Christ’s power to raise people from the dead. Through this, God will be glorified. Through this, Lazarus who has passed to the grave, will be given a second chance on life. Through this many will believe and find hope, trust and confidence in Jesus as Lord and Messiah. But all Martha can see right now is a dead brother and a Rabbi-Messiah who took his sweet time coming to her rescue.
Can you put yourself in Martha’s shoes? Is there pain in your life that you’re waiting on God to answer but he’s been silent? Are you suffering in silence while Jesus seems to be away on a trip? Are you wondering when God is going to show up to deliver you? Are you angry, upset, grief-stricken or just mad? Too often we can relate to Martha. We question God while seeking to remain faithful yet no relief is in sight. “Lord, if only you had answered me sooner…”
You know what I am going to say before I say it because it happens to us all the time — God works on his timetable and not ours! However, he has our best interest at heart. He died for you and he has the whole timeline in his view. We see but only a glimpse but the Sovereign Lord is working for us, not against us. Just as Jesus showed up when he did, so he will show up in your life when you least expect it and most need him.
I suspect he’s already there.
Look. Listen. Rest. Pray. The God who rescued you from the grave is not as distant a you might feel.
“O Lord God, thank you for saving me. Help me not to sin in my anger against you when I feel like you are ignoring me! Help me trust and cry out to you in my pain. Help me know the lessons of faith that can help me conform to your image. I trust you Lord. I love you more than you can imagine. I know that your Spirit resides within me and brings me hope. Come now, Lord God, Creator of al things — help me put my hope in you. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen