Women Jesus Commended
Mary and Martha at Lazarus’ Funeral John 11
The situation surely looked hopeless by this point. Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. Many of the religious dignitaries from Jerusalem had come to mourn with this wealthy and prominent family.
But Mary and Martha did have Jesus’ promise that what was happening would be to God's glory, and that Jesus would be glorified as the Son of God. This was enough for Martha to run out to Jesus and tell Him that even though Lazarus' illness really had ended in death, she still believed God would give Jesus whatever He asked. She did expect God to be glorified somehow.
Jesus told Martha Lazarus would rise again, and Martha quickly agreed, talking about the someday of the resurrection of all the dead. Her faith was no less than yours and mine is today, which is why Jesus didn’t rebuke her, but encouraged her instead. She believed that on the final day of judgement Lazarus would be raised up with the righteous to live with God forever. That’s what you and I believe today. What we don’t expect is that if we pray over a dead body it will come back to life.
Jesus’ response is one of the great I AM passages in John; I Am the bread of life, the light of the world, the door for the sheep, the good shepherd, and now “I AM the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
Jesus helped Martha to see that what He had said was literally true. Lazarus was not going to stay dead, but be alive, literally, right now, and it was because Jesus Himself is life. He is the resurrection. He wasn't just talking about philosophy, or being doctrinally correct, or looking at spiritual day in heaven, but a real and physical resurrection to physical life.
Jesus told her that whoever physically died, if they believed in Jesus, they would still live, and everyone who was alive and believed in Jesus would never die. It was a stupendous statement.
Jesus challenged Martha, “Do you believe this”? And Martha moved from intellectual belief in a resurrection some day, to a full belief that Jesus is, Himself, God, the Son of God, and the long awaited Messiah.
Martha had learned to love Jesus with her mind.
Martha didn’t want her sister to miss out, so she went to get Mary privately, so as not to disturb the mourners, and Mary got up quickly to go out to the Lord. But when the mourners saw Mary moving, they went out with her, thinking she was going back to the tomb, since it was the custom to go to the tomb as often as possible during the first days of mourning. Imagine their surprise when Mary ran to Jesus.
Overcome with grief, Mary fell at Jesus feet, saying the same thing Martha had said, “I know my brother would not have died if only you had been here.” The way John described this scene is so poignant,
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.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
There was Jesus, tears streaming down His face as He followed Mary to the tomb. Outraged and grieved. He was moved by His love for this family, and for their pain, and outraged at death itself; this is not what God had ever desired for His creation. Mary shared her tears with her Lord, and the Lord shared His tears with her. This is what loving from the heart is all about.
All passages taken from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.