What happened when the loved one died?
John 11 v17-32 “On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles 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.” 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
(Every morning for well over 10 years now I have published my devotional writing from the Bible. I haven’t written about my favourite themes just the systematic reading of the Bible. I obviously have accumulated thousands of blogs from chapters and with a few of the books of the Bible most of the verses. They are not written to engage Bible students and theologians into debate. They are just an ordinary guy writing what is in his heart as he reads the amazing Bible. Others have written far better on certain subjects. I don’t have the time to think too long or research the books and the internet, the grammar isn’t brilliant I just throw it down on the paper and then type it up and post it once my devotional time is over. I don’t know how many read it but If it helps anyone, even just one person then I am encouraged. Why am I telling you this?
At times the blogs have been very cathartic for my soul as I have journeyed through a particular season. These are days where it is a great example of this. Yesterday a dear friend, a colleague, someone who had helped me develop Elim globally, a member of my apostolic team in the Midlands, the mentor to my son who served him as his assistant minister and more importantly than all that a wonderful husband to Julia and father to great sons, Ben and Tom went home to the Lord Jesus. No one saw it coming except God but the family and friends have seen touches of God from last Sunday morning through to yesterday. For me, it was the fact that as I am reading through John’s gospel having started prior to Christmas we reach chapter 11, the story of Lazarus the day after Dave collapsed. Is it a coincidence? I would rather believe it is one of the many touches God brings to us at difficult times.)
What happened when the loved one died?
- People came to the door to comfort Martha and Mary.
Over the last few days as our friend laid dying and then yesterday when he eventually left us I have seen again first-hand the amazing comfort people can bring to those who are grieving.
Emotions are raw and unpredictable, tears are constant from either weeping or laughing at the most bizarre things, there is no definitive in mourning, it is unpredictable, wild, but it definitely hurts.
Family and friends draw near, despite corona virus they hug it out, they hold on as if to say ‘don’t you go too!’ People around us become even more important. We find ourselves expressing our love and appreciation of each other. We are thankful for what is left.
Comfort is a beautiful word. It walks into the pain and plays a part of however the hurting chooses.
Martha and Mary had people knocking on the door wanting to play a part.
- Martha runs with belief, v20 and v27
Will you believe?
Martha believed that Jesus could have healed Lazarus and also believed it was never too late even after 4 days, v21 “Lord, 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.”
Martha believed that Lazarus was not finished that he would rise again, v24, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Martha believed who Jesus was, v27 “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Will you believe even when things die or people die that God will bring them into eternity?
Death is no threat to Jesus or to my friend Dave Ayling.
- Mary runs and bows down before Jesus, v28-32
At a time when it just isn’t fair.
When all you feel is pain and loss.
When anger rises at the injustice of it all.
When you cannot move, think, eat or breathe because death has weakened you.
I have been present at so many deaths. I have seen the tears of a deserted wife as the husband of many years rejects them. I have seen the tears of a mourning wife when their plans have been ripped up. The pain rises from within the depths of their soul. There is no pain quite like it. There is joy at the pain of birth. But not here at this moment. It is raw. What can the person do?
They can fall.
Fall down at the feet of Jesus.
Fall down in their pain.
Fall down in their confusion.
And most importantly fall down in their submission to Jesus who knows more than we do.
The crowds comforting, Martha believing and Mary falling down but of course there is someone else.
Jesus. What is he doing when the loved one dies?
He was waiting for things to get worse, a further 2 days, 4 in total, v17-18. The only dark day for Jesus was the cross. Everything is about that day. For Jesus, there is no dark days outside of that. He is resurrection and life. If he waits it is not because he doesn’t know what to do nor that he is not interested. It is because of a bigger plan, a better plan than Lazarus dying. (Lazarus was raised to life we know the story, but he died eventually, his resurrection to life on earth was not about him but a help to taking Jesus to his darkest day, the cross). There is a plan in the waiting.
He is instilling hope to Martha, v25-26 “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” Lazarus wasn’t dead, he was alive. Those who love Jesus never die, never. They always are living. They just go into another space, a better place than earth, to live again.
He is calling Mary, v28-30. He is near to the broken-hearted. Psalm 3 v 2 reminds us of the many voices that are plaguing us in times of difficulty, “God will not, has not, never will.” But there is one voice that matters. The sweetest voice in all the earth. The voice that calls you to him now, in your grief, in the pain, ‘come to me’ and where is Jesus? He is always at the place of belief (v30)? That’s where he is waiting for you and for me today.