John 11:17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
This household has already observed the traditions of grieving for four days but there is a new intensity to their grief today. The Jewish superstition about the soul having stayed near the grave for three days hoping to return to the body has now passed and this day has become the mark of finality for Lazarus’s life. Jesus has chosen this same day for His purpose – to mark this day as the finality of Lazarus’s death, for life.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
When death marks the finality of life the past tense, “Jesus came,” becomes the present reality Jesus chooses for all believers. “I am the resurrection and the life, “Jesus came” becomes “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” When everything else associated with life has become history…“Do you believe this?”
What does it say about people?
Faith changes our experiences with the mystery of death because of Jesus. Jesus came…Jesus was coming, Jesus had come…Jesus is coming. Those are the tenses of life and death that cause people to respond differently to the truth that sustains them. Mary remained at home… because she knew Jesus was coming. Martha went to meet Jesus…because she knew Jesus was coming.
Is there truth here for me?
I see that mystery in the patience of Mary’s grief. Faith gave her the comfort to “remain seated in the house,” knowing Jesus was coming I see that same faith do something quite different for Martha in her grief. She knew Jesus was coming and that she had to get to Him…now! Grief has tenses too! I think very few of us consciously spend much in our relationship with Jesus thinking about death. I know that’s true for me. My relationship with Jesus began with this promise; Jesus came…for my life. Life has shown me a new reality. Faith is a verb that holds the answers to the mystery of life and death because…Jesus came…Jesus was coming, Jesus had come…Jesus is coming.