Resurrection

This was no metaphorical death.
The body of Lazarus was decomposing in the cave-like tomb. Four days of this rancid deconstruction had already passed by the time Jesus arrived at Bethany. In those days grieving the dead was a public as well as a private process. Even four days after internment, friends and family of Martha and Mary remained with them to grieve with them and meet whatever needs they had.

Two Sisters; Two Different Women
The biblical accounts of the relationship between Jesus and each the sisters provide many life lessons for those of us who follow the Lord. When their brother, Lazarus, is added to the story, the lessons increase again. Many have said that Martha was the worker and Mary the worshiper and Lazarus was, like us, torn between the two. This is an oversimplification of course but it is a helpful observation.

Martha—A Woman of Action
The key to her personality is given by Dr. Luke—“She made Jesus welcome.” How we need to learn from this woman! She shows us a key to effective living. When Martha heard that Jesus had arrived, she went out to meet Him. She was on such friendly terms with Him that she began with a rebuke.

“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Perhaps she thought her excellent record of serving Him should earn her special favor in His eyes. Or, perhaps it was a simple statement of fact and faith. Her confidence in Jesus remained at a high level.

“But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

She faced the reality of her brother’s passing but she avoided underestimating Jesus. His answer to her was well within the accepted understanding of life and death and life again.

“Your brother will rise again.”

The Written Word; the Living Word
As we must do in times of crisis or sorrow, Martha confessed faith in the Word of God.

“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus took Martha’s hands and guided her to a place where they could sit and talk. He had something new and powerful to tell her. When, through her tears, she was able to focus on His face, He continued.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

Moving her lips but making no sound, Martha repeated the words He said to her, as if she were memorizing a new recipe. She nodded her head when she finished. Jesus asked her,

“Do you believe this?”

This was no rhetorical question. She knew she had to answer from the depth of her whole life. She had a broken, grieving sister sitting in the house and a brother wasting away in a grave. There was so much at stake. As she weighed her answer, a high, white cloud crept across the face of the bright sun, like despair stealing hope from the world. In its shadow, she answered.

“Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, the cloud gave way to the full light of day.

Scriptures:
John 11:17-27

So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, sometimes clouds of circumstance seem to obscure the brightness of Your covenantal promises. But, like the sun on a cloudy day, Your promises remain in force. Just as Martha found hope in Your presence, may I find confidence in You today regardless of circumstances. You are faithful even in the darkest moments of life. In such times, help me remember the outstanding record of Your faithfulness to me and help me to pass through this gate of remembrance—it is called the Gate of Thanksgiving! Let my remembrance build my faith for today’s challenges. Amen.

Song:
Give Thanks

Words and Music: Kenneth Paul Barker/Andy Cloninger/Claire D. Cloninger/Henry Smith

Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.
Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”
And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”

Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.
Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.

Give thanks

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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