John 11:21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
John 11:32 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.”
It seems that even Jesus could not be present in two places at the same time. His friend Lazarus died, and when Jesus finally arrived at his home, both the sisters, Martha and Mary, express their grief and disappointment. If Jesus had arrived sooner, they each told Him, their brother would still have been alive.
Looking back over the whole story, we discover that Jesus deliberately delayed Himself and continued His teaching in Jerusalem when He first received the news that Lazarus was ill. We now know that He did this in order to perform an amazing miracle. However, the fact that He was only 2-3 miles away from where Lazarus was sick, must have confused, and possibly angered, the two concerned sisters. Jesus deliberately chose to stay away, despite their pain and their pleas.
We all go through times like that. We can’t ever be in two places at the one time, so we make choices based upon our personal priorities. Sometimes we get it right; on other occasions we end up disappointing someone who could do with our help, encouragement, or even our prayers.
At the end of the story, Jesus resurrected Lazarus and restored him to his sisters. There appeared to be a happy ending and the time of brief disappointment gave way to a wonderful celebration. However, this is more than just an amazing miracle; the whole incident is parable about how we deal with death and who has the power to resurrect our souls. We may encounter loss, grief, and disappointment on Earth, but through our faith in Christ, there is a special time ahead when He will wipe away all tears from our eyes and restore us to our faithful loved ones, who have undergone that mysterious journey before us, and have been welcomed into God’s everlasting Kingdom of peace, love, and life.
Questions for personal reflection
Have I ever disappointed someone by not being there for them when they needed me? Have I ever been disappointed by someone who did the same to me? Am I willing to seek or give forgiveness?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, sometimes we get hurt by other people because we expect too much from them. At other times, we disappoint others by not living up to their expectations. Help us to be sensitive and supportive to those who need us; allow us to be gracious and forgiving of those who have failed us. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is currently the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest Celtic Cross drawings. It’s called Celtic Sunrise. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Sunrise.