Sunday, August 8, 2010

Life of Christ Devotional - John 11:17-45

“On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know 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 will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” And 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.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 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. 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.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. ” (John 11:17–45, NIV)
“If you had been here...”
I am sure those words resonate in the hearts of so many who have faced deep disappointment in their life. Some have seen disease ravage the bodies of those whom they love so dearly. Others have seen their dreams change in an unexpected blink of an eye. And because we know what God has the power to do, it is easy for us to look at Him in our moment of grief and despair and ask, “Why didn’t you do something?”
We have in our mind what would be best…and when our expectations do not match His plan, we are disappointed and even hurt by what we experience. This must have been the emotion and Mary and Martha. They saw the life of a brother they loved end too soon. They see the man that could have changed their circumstances but He is too late.
They weep.
Jesus knew what was coming next. It was the reason for His delay. Lazarus would rise from the grave. And yet, when He saw the grief of His friends whom he loved, in their moment of pain, he joined in their sorrow as tears flowed from His eyes.
Jesus wept.
Despite His sovereign control of all things and His power to perform the miraculous, Jesus still felt the pain of seeing the suffering of those whom He loved. He does not turn a blind eye to the dark places of our life even when He knows the beauty of what lies ahead through His redemptive power. He meets us in our moment of need and He cares for us tenderly with great sympathy toward our limited understanding.
I know this to be true as I prayed this same prayer when my brother died of cancer. "God, why didn't you do something?" I have not received an answer to that question. And yet, God has tenderly taught me to trust in him even when I don't understand. He didn't arrive too late, He had something better in mind. He cared for me in the moment of need and the many moments to follow.
Take comfort in knowing this tender love of Jesus. Rejoice in His power to redeem. Trust in His perfect timing.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. ” (Titus 3:4–7, NIV)

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