Lent Reading: John 11:1-45
I wonder if we limit what God can do? This was true of Martha, one of the earliest followers of Jesus. When Lazarus became sick, his sisters sent word for Jesus to come. They knew Jesus could heal him. Jesus did not come, and tragically Lazarus died. As we read John 11 we can feel Martha’s grief,
“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.” (John 11:23-24, NIV)
Where others may have turned to anger, Martha holds to her faith in Jesus, while struggling with grief. But her faith in Jesus has limits. When Jesus invites Martha to believe her brother will yet live, she responds with a correct ‘bible’ answer. Martha knew God would raise the righteous to life, at the end of time. This was not what Jesus meant. With a loud voice Jesus called, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, now alive. What God would do at the end of time, happened in that moment for Lazarus, by Jesus’ word, before Martha.
While Martha knew the right answers, she had no idea what answers trusting in Jesus could bring. What she believed theoretically became real. Her distant theological hope now appeared before her eyes. All at the command of Jesus. Do we limit God like Martha? Do we believe God will do great things at the end of time, but fail to believe he can do great things now? What would we ask for, if we knew at the command of Jesus even death is no barrier to the work of God?