Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
John 11:21-22 (NLT)
This is the same Martha who had been whining to Jesus about Mary who would sit at his feet rather than help in the kitchen. She’s come a long way since then and has obviously taken the time not just to work, but to listen to Jesus as well.
“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”
John 11:27 (NLT)
Martha, not Mary, was the first to greet Jesus when he finally arrived after hearing of Lazarus’ illness. Martha had to go get Mary so Jesus could speak with her. Martha, the more practical of the two believed that Jesus could do whatever God wanted him to do in the situation and told Jesus so. Mary, the more emotional of the two almost seemed to blame Jesus for their brother’s death.
When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell down at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
John 11:32 (NLT)
Both women told Jesus the same thing, but with completely different attitudes. There is a time to be like Mary—breaking open a jar of expensive perfume to pour over Jesus’ feet. To sit and listen to the Son of God and drink in all he has to say. And there is a time to be like Martha—more practical. Able to think clearly in times of turmoil and crisis.
Jesus didn’t scorn either woman, but praised them both for their attitudes and faith.
Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 26-27, John 11:18-46
I doubt that I would ever consider myself to be a remarkable person. Not that I don’t aspire to, but I’m not sure that there is much I have accomplished thus far in my life to merit having it spoken of for millennia to come.
In Matthew 26, a woman—presumed to be Mary, sister of Lazarus—enters the room where Jesus and his disciples are sharing what was to be their last meal together. She has with her a jar of atrociously expensive perfume which she proceeds to break and empty the contents thereof over Jesus. The disciples, of course are indignant and—as often the case—have missed the point of these actions entirely.
Jesus sets them straight and explains the purpose behind the poured out perfume. The woman has prepared his body for burial in advance. She has honoured him in an extravagant manner. Her actions will be spoken of throughout the ages. We still talk about her selfless extravagance today.
I wonder if I could ever do something like that. I don’t mean being extravagant for the sake of people seeing just how much I can give—that would be wasteful, but to rather be led by the Spirit of God to do something beyond what would ever be expected of me in order to honour Jesus and his Gospel.
Could I ever truly be remarkable for the sake of His call?
Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 10-12, Matthew 26:1-19
Sometimes… okay, most of the time… maybe all the time, when we go through trials of any sort, it is difficult to imagine that the situation has the potential to bring glory to God.
So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
John 11:3-4 (ESV)
If you’ve read this portion of scripture before, you’ll know that the one whom Jesus loves refers to Lazarus. Not only was he very ill, but by the time Jesus and his disciples started making their way to him, the man was already dead.
What never fails to amaze me is the disciple’s continual ability to respond in the worst possible way. They walk with Jesus. They learn from Jesus. They eat with Jesus. They minister with Jesus. They’ve seen miracle after miracle and yet, when Jesus tells them that Lazarus is dead, they say, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16)
So don’t feel at all poorly if you are unable to see beyond the situation all the time. All you need is that flicker of hope. That tiny spark that can be tended to and fanned into something greater.
But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.
John 11:10 (ESV)
A little light is enough to light your way and, as you gain confidence in your footing, that light will grow and grow until it is a burning beacon sent out into the world declaring God’s glory and victory over any and every situation.
Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 23-25; John 11:1-17
If you’ve paid any attention to the news at all lately, it would seem that the world is going to hell in a hand basket in a hurry. Morals a quickly fading. Beliefs are fragile at best. Direction is lacking and all sense of responsibility has gone out the window.
How are we, the Church, supposed to make these people believe again?
The simple answer, we’re not.
In the book of Luke, Jesus tells the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus is a beggar and the rich man is a man of great indulgence. The rich man paid no attention to Lazarus. Both men die and Lazarus is taken up to Abraham’s side while the rich man goes down to the fiery depths. The rich man soon learns that there is no help for him, so he asks for help for his five brothers. Surely, if someone came back from the dead, they would believe.
He [Jesus] said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should arise from the dead.”
Luke 16:31 (ESV)
Just as a man in Heaven cannot help a man in Hell, there is nothing you or I can do to force a person to believe. We can and should share the Gospel in a way that is comprehensible by all, but the believing part is out of our hands. It is up to the Holy Spirit to take the seeds we spread and help it to grow.
Once a seed is in the ground there is little one can do aside from watering to help it along. If the ground is good, the seed will take root and grow, but if the ground is bad and does not receive the seed, there is precious little we can do to make a difference.
Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 25-26; Luke 16:19-31