Thanks to my wonderful wife Bethany for providing this week's thought for reflection together.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
-Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:20)
Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’
In Luke 10, we are introduced to “a certain woman named Martha” who welcomed Jesus into her home. Poor Martha is usually viewed from that point on as nothing more than a cautionary tale of workaholism. She is the one who misses the point. Mary is the good sister; the one who gets it right.
As a result of this bad press, I never found Martha particularly interesting or appealing. That changed a few days ago when I entered into her story and began to connect deeply with her humanity.
By the time we encounter Martha for the second time in John 11, we can deduce that she is a woman who cares deeply about her family and about Jesus. She prioritizes taking care of people and anything else that needs to be taken care of. She is responsible and capable. She tries to do the right thing in every situation.
But one day, her world is shaken.
Her brother dies because Jesus doesn’t come in time to save him. Jesus could have come. He should have come. They sent for him. But he chooses to ignore their message and arrives four days too late.
It suddenly feels like everything around Martha is crumbling down around her. But because she is capable and responsible and trying to do the right thing, when Jesus arrives, Martha pulls herself together and goes out to meet him. She can’t quite put it into words, but she knows deep down that Jesus could have stopped this. She knows there is power there. She knows that he could have healed Lazarus and saved them from all of this pain. If only Jesus had come sooner! She has to say something so she blurts out, “if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She still knows Jesus is good and true and powerful…but why oh why didn’t he choose to come and heal Lazarus when they asked?
Jesus assures her that Lazarus will rise again.
And she knows that. She knows that hope is promised and her brother will rise again someday. She truly believes it. She verbalizes these things. She wants Jesus to know that she really does trust him. She really does have hope for the future. But the now, that’s where the pain is at.
Then Jesus declares who he is and what is promised and he asks her if she believes.
And she does believe. Of course she believes! She knows Jesus is the Messiah they’ve been waiting for. In fact, after knowing Jesus for some time, she is absolutely convinced that he is the Son of God. But she still doesn’t know how that’s supposed to help in this moment. Right now. Now that it is too late.
Although Martha knows that Jesus can do remarkable things, raising the dead isn’t even on her radar. It is so far beyond anything she could ask or imagine. She doesn’t even consider the possibility.
But Jesus does. And Jesus does it.
He does the thing she didn’t even know she could ask him to do.
Jesus opens a tomb and brings death to life.
Turns a story around completely.
Brings the ending that nobody saw coming.
Restores someone that was truly beyond hope.
He does infinitely more than she could ask or even imagine.
I think on this and wonder… where is my faith too small? Where is my imagination too limited?
Jesus, sometimes I nod my head in agreement while still not really trusting the ways you can transform my life and our world. Strengthen my faith and sharpen my eyes.