Monday, July 28, 2008

Discussing Mary & Martha Part 3

Hey Girls. Sorry for my absence. I took some time away to “stay-cation.” I celebrated my 3Xth birthday about a week ago. And I started stripping the wall paper from my kitchen – little did I realize it may take me until my next birthday to finish that process!

As promised, we’ll continue discussing Mary and Martha. This post references Martha and Mary’s story found in John 11:1-46.

Imagine you and your family are personal friends of Jesus. One of your loved ones becomes very ill and you send Jesus a text message telling Him to come quickly and heal them. Jesus, after all, was known for healing sick people. Jesus replies back, “His illness will not end in death. It is for the glory of God.”

However, your loved one dies shortly after that, and Jesus doesn’t come until the funeral is over. You are receiving guests with casseroles and flowers at your home when you hear that Jesus is only a couple of miles away. Although you asked Him to, Jesus did not prevent your loved one from dying. What will you say when see Him again?

What Martha did was go out and find Jesus several miles away while Mary stayed at home, mourning. Martha looked into His face and says to Jesus in that moment, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” That statement sounds like a complaint about Jesus running late. Perhaps it is partially a complaint, but it is also a statement laced with faith. And her next statement is all faith. She says, “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Before she said another thing, Jesus tells her that her brother "will rise again.”

Martha remembered that several days ago Jesus had said Lazarus wouldn’t die from this illness. But Lazarus did die, so she figures Jesus must be talking about the future resurrection day of all souls. She mentions that. Jesus does not clarify that He is about to raise Lazarus from that tomb his lifeless body lays in, instead He explains something even more grand: that HE IS RESURRECTION LIFE.

Jesus reveals to her that resurrection life is not just a future spiritual event, but a living, breathing, walking reality embodied in Jesus – and that anyone who believes this will receive eternal life on that coming resurrection day. He asks Martha if she believes this – that through Him a person can live eternally even though they die physically.

Martha – who is most known today for being too busy in the kitchen to sit with Jesus – says in response: “Yes, Lord, I have always believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” Martha took the heat for fussing over Mary and the cooking as we discussed in previous weeks' posts, but in this moment she takes the cake for having great belief in Jesus!

To us Martha’s declaration may seem like a stating of obvious fact. But this woman had not read the New Testament (it wasn’t even written yet), she had not done Beth Moore’s Bible study “Jesus the One and Only,” and she had not seen Jesus raised from the dead (He hadn’t been crucified), yet still she understood and believed that Jesus was the Christ and through Him people could be delivered from death. Can you imagine Jesus’ smile when she said that?

Then Martha then goes home and tells Mary Jesus wants to see her. Mary had been inconsolable over her brother’s death. The Bible says, “When the people who were trying to console Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to weep at Lazarus’s grave and followed her.” Instead she went to Jesus who had called her to His side.

It seems Jesus was somewhat agitated that the whole crowd had come along. He had been purposely staying just out of town, rather than going to the two sisters’ house with the crowd. I think He knew with all these witnesses, it would get back to the Pharisees that He had raised Lazarus from the dead, and they would surely come after Him and kill Him (which is exactly what happened next).

But Jesus felt deeply for Mary as she wept there at His feet over her brother. Jesus had loved Lazarus dearly too. And, Jesus cried along with them. Our Lord can feel our pain. I am so thankful for a Savior who has walked this dusty earth, feeling the emotions and dealing with the complexities of human life as we do.

Once He reached Lazarus’ grave, Jesus called for the stone to be rolled away from the tomb. Martha panics a moment at what it will smell like when that door is opened. Jesus reminds her, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”

Are there some areas of your life you have thought “dead?” Like maybe, your savings account? Or your career? Or your sex-life with your spouse? Or your womb? Or a relationship with a parent, or child? What “can of worms” do you avoid opening for fear that it is too stinky to deal with?

Once the tomb was opened, Jesus says aloud towards Heaven, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so they will believe you sent me." Then Jesus shouted, "Lazarus, come out!" And Lazarus came out, bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him go!" (vs. 42-43).

Look carefully at what took place in this passage – realize we may not always get to hear Jesus command the life to rise in us, or in our circumstances. Oftentimes we will just have to take that on faith. And realize it may not look or smell much like life at first. In fact, it might continue looking like a smelly corpse in graveclothes! But if we preserve in faith, unwrapping those graveclothes, we will find the miracle of resurrection life has gone forth.

As I reread this passage this weekend, what stood out to me was the three instances that Martha’s faith was challenged (verses 4-5, 21-27, and 39-40) and she responded with belief. Had she not responded with belief, would Lazarus not been raised from the dead? I don’t know – it seems God already had this miracle planned out in order to demonstrate His power and glory. And we see that Jesus knew that from the start.

Jesus didn’t delay coming because He was just too busy to help Lazarus. Nor was He was numb to their feelings and plight. It's just that relieving their temporary suffering and grief was not the primary motivation for Jesus. Jesus was carrying out the will of God, being driven by a higher purpose, so God could be glorified and others (including Mary, Martha, and Lazarus) could see God and believe. That is not callous - there is no greater pleasure than seeing God. Verse 45 confirms that, “Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.”

So here is the challenge I take from this story. Jesus holds the resurrection power – do I hold the belief? If so, I will see God and His glory displayed. If so, I'll get to remove the graveclothes from the dead areas of my heart and life. And I will one day rise from my own grave. I have to rememeber the goal is not to avoid all suffering, but to see God and His glory.

I'ld love to hear what lessons you learned, or challenges you take, from this portion of the reading!


31 comments:

  1. Hi Rachel,
    THis goes great with the lesson God is showing me today. He has scolded me for going back to battles He has already won on my behalf.

    The analogy of taking off the grave clothes has given me a vivid picture of what my already fought battles have become...grave clothes.

    I'm not putting on no stinking grave clothes no more. (say that with southern gusto!) The battle is already won. I will go out with garments of praise.
    Though scripture doesn't say...I wonder what they covered Lazarus with, once they removed the linen grave clothes? Could it have been Jesus own cloak? Scripture doesn't say, but I wouldn't have put it past Him!

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  2. Hi Rachel,

    This reminds me of a time that I received a bad report from my doctor, but GOD was telling me that I was healed. I had to stand on the word of GOD and trust what HE said. By his blood and mercy, I can write that I have indeed been healed and the doctor's are still in awe and can't figure out what happened. To God Be The Glory! I had to refuse to put on those grave clothes. Praise GOD!

    P.S. I have tagged you, visit my blog for instructions.

    Blessings,
    LaTonya

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  3. Hi Rachel:
    Happy Belated Birthday!
    I am now pondering those dead stinky area's in my life-especially when the stench fills not only your nose but those around you...but oh! the sweet smell of revival...

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  4. AnonymousJuly 28, 2008

    In my deepest moments of grief, pain or trial do I reach out to the Lord with complete faith and belief? I would love to answer yes to that question, but I know that it would not always be true. This challenges me to always turn to God first, and to always believe that His plans are good even if I don't understand them. Replacing doubt with unwavering faith is my personal challenge.

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  5. Yikes, This one hits home.. When my brother was dieing, and I was praying, praying,praying, everyone came in praying, But nothing was changing in his situation, I am ashamed to admit, I tried on those clothes. I felt like the Lord let me down, and what I was believing in. My Pastor, my husband everyone was afraid for me. Afraid that I would walk away from my God. I am sure other's can relate. But I listen to my God, and I know what happens, happens for a reason, and I know we will be back together. But I believe in him and I believe in all healings, I have seen enough at church and else where. I know at the end of his death, I was scared for my mom, she wanted to die, she told me over and over she wanted to die. So three days before we turned off the machine, I went home and cried out to my lord, asking for forgiveness, and begging for my mom's life. The next morning I went to pick her up and she cried and told me it was selfish of her and said as long as I am here she is here with me.. But I am not aloud to leave her either. Hard I know But I think it being her and I left, I just pray that the Lord will keep me here long enough for her.

    I today will be the first one to tell you how awesome God is.
    I don't never want those yucky clothes on my body.
    I hope what I said made since, after reading what you wrote Rachel, it was alittle diffcult to swallow.
    Vacationnnn good for you, but it does sound like work-cation! Sometimes that can be fun too. especially the final results.
    Glad to hear from you again
    God Bless
    Sharon

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  6. Almost forgot to mention !!

    Happpppy Birthdayyyyy

    Hugggs
    sharon

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  7. Rachel,
    Happy Birthday and welcome back. We have missed you. You probably needed and deserved some vacation or time away for refreshing not only your home but yourself.

    One day when I feel it is the right time I am going to post what I've dealt with since I was in my 20's which caused 5 surgeries in my neck. I have prayed for healing, claimed healing but the real problem has never gone away. However, after the last surgery on my neck God spared my life. I was given a shot for pain that stopped my breathing. My husband went to the phone and called my daughters back to the hospital because he truely thought I was gone. He will tell you he knows what it feels like to loose a spouse. The same thing happened May 17th, 2007 when I had back surgery. I was kept in recovery until 5pm because my heart rate kept going up and down. When I was brought back to my room, my husband and daughters left to get something to eat. Praise God a niece stayed with me. A nurse came in and gave me the same shot for pain and my niece noticed that I was not breathing and my lips turned blue. But once again God brought me back with the help of the crash team I assume. Frankly, I don't remember anything about the last two surgeries, I felt no pain at all. Morphine sends me into another world. All my doctors now know what NOT to give me. I am still claiming healing for the problem in my neck, but you know God had a plan for me and all of us. When it's my time to go I can honestly say don't weep for me because I will be in a better place where there will be no more pain, no more heartaches, and no more tears. Until that time comes I will continue to serve Him in whatever area He places me and I will continue to believe Him for my healing. The Bible says that "by His stripes we are healed". I don't know what tomorrow holds, as one of the other ladies posted on her blog, but I know Who holds tomorow.
    I believe and know in my heart that we have to give Him complete control of our lives. How I did that will be in the post that I will do later.

    Thanks, Rachel, for making us think about what we would do if we got an email from Him saying He was coming to help a loved one. If we can't believe His Word, how could we believe His email. I choose this day to believe His Word, there's healing in His wings.
    AliceE.

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  8. Hi, Rachel! Hope you enjoyed your birthday and your stay-cation! :)

    I loved reading this passage again. I was moved by Martha's faith. She was unwavering with her faith in this passage.

    She does get a bum wrap a lot for being so busy and not sitting at the Lord's feet. But her faith in the Faithful One shines throug here!

    And the two points for me that really ministered to my heart were:
    1.) It was for God' glory (v.4);
    2.) Many came to believe in Christ because of this (v.45)

    God's timing is perfect and purposeful. Amen!

    Thanks, Rachel! God bless you!

    Sharon

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  9. Rachel,

    Happy Birthday! I hope the year ahead is blessed! Thanks for the post; I was moved again when I read that Jesus wept. It is easy to forget that he knows what we go through. He has experienced sorrow and hurt; He understands our circumstances and that makes Him such a powerful intercessor for us! And then He SHOUTS for Lazarus to arise! He banishes the sadness, the darkness and the death! It is humbling to think He does this still.

    I know there are areas in my life where I have asked for Him to raise someone or a situation from the dead and then waited and seemingly nothing happens. I know I have mentioned on this blog how I struggle with continuing prayer for that situation; does continuing to pray show lack of faith that He has it in control and that He will do what is best? Does it indicate that I am "taking back" the struggle?

    Your post today reminds me to put my faith in the one whose glory "will not be shared" and whose timing and solution is perfect!

    Thanks again,

    - Karen in CA

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  10. thanks for your comments on martha there are so many times in my life that there seems to be no life buth God wants me to step out in faith and trust Him to restore life to a situation just like the raising of Lasarus from the dead martha had faith and knew her jesus intimately and trusted Him to take care of the situation the question that went through my mind was do i have that same kind of faith? i want to i am enjoying your words and all the different posts thanks for the encouragement

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  11. Hi Ladies,

    I have a prayer request. I am going in for my fourth surgery on on Wednesday, July 30th. Please offer me up in your prayers.

    Thank you so much, and God bless all of you.

    Your Sister in Christ,
    Karyl
    Bonners Ferry, ID
    <*/////><

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  12. First of all Happy Belated Birthday. :)
    Thanks for breaking this apart, There are so many lessons that can be learned from Mary and Martha. And as I've read others comments so many personal revelations.
    I know Jesus died for our healing and that healing is available to us all. It's hard to explain then why does anyone ever die. These were questions I had to deal with when my Mother was on life support and then went home to Jesus.
    I know with out a doubt that she could have been heal by a miracle. For a while I felt there was something wrong that it was my fault I didn't have enough faith to bring her through her coma, but God showed me in this particular case there were things set in motion years ago that I had no contoll over. We have the free will to take care of the bodies that He gives us while we are here - or not.
    God has also been dealing with me about my words and what a creative force that they carry. He spoke the world into existance and He gave us authority to say to the mountain "Move". Therefor when we say things like, I have a bad heart, knees, back, ... we claim that for our own. He asked me was it a healed heart or a bad heart? Yes it had to go through the healing process but, you can't call in healing and keep saying it's a bad, heart knee ....

    Jesus said "Lazarus, Come out". When Jesus left he gave that power to us through the Holy Spirit. John 14:12 Greater works than these we will do....
    We need to call those things that are not as though they were. "Faith" (with our words)

    Wow - I got lenghty there sorry!

    Rachel- I do have some questions I've done some researh and I think I've figured it out, but want to know if you have any insight on this - In the first part of our reading on Mary and Martha it said this was the Mary (of Bethany) that anointed Jesus feet. Also if you look up Mary Madelean it says she may the one that anointed His feet, and if you look up Mary of Bethany it says Mary of Bethany is thought to be he one that anointed Jesus feet.... Is Mary of Mary and Martha - Mary Magdelean?

    Thanks,
    Be Blessed
    Lynn

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  13. Thanks, Rachel, for your insight, and belated birthday greetings. May your 'stay-cation' with all its efforts bring you joy and happiness.
    Karyl, I shall remember to keep you in my prayers as you face this challenge. May you feel the presence of the Lord with you in all, and may all around you see that the Lord is good.
    What a vivid picture of this story/instance of God demonstrating His power, and such a reminder to me that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And His power, the same power, lives in me! Blessed be the name of the Lord!

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  14. So glad to have you back, and Happy late Birthday. I really enjoy your comments and it helps to open my eyes to His word. I will go back and read it over and over to see what He has to say to me and I will see it one way and then I love to your comments along with all the other ladies' comments and I grow more each day.

    I want to keep the "grave clothes" on after I've been at His feet. I want to get my eyes down and not on His face. I have to look up and look upon His word and shed those clothes and accept His great love and mercy each day, for the devil loves to keep me down. Whether it's with my attitude at work, at home with my family, or just me on my diet, I need to stay focused on Him.
    Thanks again for your time, I know raising a family it's very valuable.
    Sharron

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  15. Rachel, Happy Birthday and thank you for your wonderful insights on Mary and Martha.

    The section about the dead things in my life really hit home. Everything there seemed to be my story. Just the other day I was facing a financial crisis and my faith was weak. I kept crying out for the Lord to help me in my unbelief. He of course He did and the problem was resolved in less than five minutes. Now I keep reminding myself to never forget that.

    The point is that unless I have faith like Mary and Martha I cannot expect a miracle. What a beautiful story and what a wonderful blessing that we can live in that sure knowledge that we will never die. Jesus has given us eternal life with Him, the Father and the Spirit.

    Karyl, you are in my prayers. Healing is yours - just believe.


    Janet
    Latrobe, PA

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  16. This also is what I seem to be going through.

    I know God is usuing this time in my life to build my faith. But I'm so discouraged right now.

    I do know He has a plan, and purpose for all of us.

    I just need to be willing for Him to open my "can of worms" and take off my grave clothes.

    I pray God does this for me, and all the ladies who might be going through the same.

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  17. Happy Belated Birthday, my friend!!

    I loved your insight of the grave clothes. I had never pictured myself in them, yet, when I don't let go of my "stinky can of worms" that's how I'm dressed!! Thanks so much for allowing God to open my eyes.
    Love ya,
    Susan

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  18. Rachel,

    Happy Birthday Late. May God give you a year of growth and prosperity in every area of your life.

    I love the bios of Mary and Martha. These were everyday woman of God, who's faith was tested, and when push came to shove, Martha stepped out in faith, and was very richly rewarded. How much more faithful can you get then, I know that God will give you whatever you ask? She didn't look at the problem, she looked straight into the eyes of her Savior and placed her faith there also. We have to choose to either focus on the problem or focus on God. I currently have issues in my life that are of my own making, but I am choosing to seek God, and believe that He will direct me. I do have some old stinky stuff, that needs to either have life spoken back in to it.

    Thanks so much for the insights.
    Salye

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  19. Hi Rachel- with everyone else I wish you a happy belated Birthday .
    The thing that really set in my spirit with the lesson was even though Martha is most know for her busyness in making sure Jesus was comfortable and well cared for while in her home, she at some point set at His feet and in all her busyness she spent some time mediating on the lessons He provide while in her presence. 1- She believed Jeus could have kept her brother from dying-she had faith in Jesus this came from lsitening to Him and seeing His work in people's lives. 2- she had faith in the resurrection even though she didn't understand it was going to be shown His power to resurrect right then. She believed for she saw the glory of God. My lessons even in my busyness If I commune with God I will come to know Him. I may not understand all that Jesus is tellng me when He tells my if I have faith and believe I will see His glory. When I am in pain I need to run to Jesus and not wait for Him to come all the way to me knowing that He is close enough for me to get to- He is going to be where my need was- Martha's need was at Lazerus tomb and that is where Jesus met her. Lastly I think Jesus can handle my stink and is waiting to remove it- it doesn't scare Him away. In fact He died for my stink.
    Rachael again I must thank you for allowing God to use ins uch a way- I stand in awe at what God reveals to us when we truly take the time to read and mediate on His word. Thank you for giving us time to reflect and mediate on these women so we all can truly get what God want us to get from them. As always He give each of us a piece which we can share and learn even more. what a Awesome God we serve.

    God Bless All Willnette

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  20. Rachel, I happened on to your blog through a comment you left on another blog awhile back. What a powerful lesson -- helping us think about the dead areas of our lives and pointing out that the Lord can resurrect those, too. Thank you.

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  21. This is a request for my youngest daughter and her family. They are in a financial crisis right now and need God's help. He knows the problems and He has the answer. We will be doing what we can to help them but they need more than what we can do. They are Christians and are trusting God.
    Your prayers will be helpful.
    AliceE.

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  22. I'm back. I've been away on two mission trips with the teens from our church. What an awesome (or as they say, sweet) experience. What I have seen is that God is still ALIVE and STILL doing MIRACLES. We are His hands and feet, his vessel. If only we would all be as Martha and believe...without asking too many questions, without feeling sorry for ourselves because of the situation we are in, if only...but hey, we can be, and should be. Lord, I believe...Help my Unbelief
    Kelly

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  23. One quick point: the passage does not indicate that Jesus ever "sent word back" to Mary and Martha. It does record his verbal response to the message. I'm not sure Martha and Mary ever felt they had been promised that Lazarus would not die.

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  24. Julie, you raise an interesting point to ponder. We do see Jesus in verse 4 verbally responding to Mary's situation and request "when he heard this" (NIV). So we can easily assume the messager is standing right there to hear His response. I see no recording in the text that Jesus' reponse was spoken at a later time after the messenger left. And I see no recording in the text that Mary & Martha were not told of Jesus' response. (I'm sure Mary would've demanded to know what He said as this was a matter of life and death for her brother.)

    But perhaps as you suggested, the women were not told of Jesus' reply. If so, why not? Did Jesus leave them hanging with no response? If so, why? What would be His purpose in that? Hum...

    Or did Jesus tell them something (Lazarus will not die) that would stretch and test their faith in the comming days? I lean toward the latter reading of the text but you do rasie an interesting alternative.

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  25. Hi- I'm trusting God in a really big way, this week, as my sister will be visiting from out West. While we haven't exactly been close, she's had some sort of animosity against me since I was born 2 years after her! It has affected my ability to have close friendships.I haven't given up, although it's been difficult and she's my only sibling. I'm 58, she's 60! It's been a long time. I pray this visit will be better! Just waiting on Jesus!

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  26. Hi Rachel-
    Just dropping by to say Hi and let everyone know that Plant Lady of plantladysponderings is having a giveaway...a basket of handmade soaps...it is open to all and the last day to enter is Friday Aug. 8th...
    Be Blessed
    In His Love,
    Debrah

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  27. I have been thinking a lot about the two different passages on Mary and Martha. There are definately times that I need to sit at Christ's feet and not get so lost in the business of my life. There are other times that I need to run to him, affirm my faith in him and not get lost wallowing in grief over things that are happening in my life.

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  28. I don't post often, but I'm here often. A while back I had a prayer request for my first (unborn) grand-child, and was delighted to respond that we had surely had a miracle. I still do believe in miracles, and I'm requesting prayer for another, another problem has reared it's ugly head, and our beloved little baby (due Sept 11) is threatened with a severe birth defect, please pray

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  29. Rachel,

    Hope everything is well with you.
    It has been a while since you posted on your blog. I am praying for your prosperity in all areas of your life. Looking forward to our next endeavor.

    Love and peace in Christ.

    Janet
    Latrobe, PA

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  30. Rachel,

    O---K it's been to long now. I hope everything is ok. We are all missing you very much.
    I am praying for you and your family!
    Love & Miss you very much
    Sharon

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  31. Rachel,
    The week I was away, you seemed to post a lot, and I wanted so much to have the time to read everything you wrote. Now I am caught up and eagerly waiting more...Hope all is okay. Prayers for you.
    Kelly

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