I've skipped around a lot lately in my Bible reading, but seem to be slowly coming back to John chapter by chapter. This time I was in John 11 when a couple of things gripped me that I wanted to write out.
Chapter 11 is primarily about Lazarus dying and being raised from the dead. For those that might not know the details here's just the cliff note version.
Mary is the woman who anointed Jesus feet with oil and wiped them with her hair. As something completely unrelated - she's among my favorite women in the Bible. Her brother was Lazarus, her sister is Martha.
Lazarus gets sick so Martha and Mary send word to Jesus. Jesus waits a couple of days until Lazarus dies to come to see them - Jesus knows Lazarus is dead only because He's Jesus, no one has told Him yet.
So He's walking down the road to Bethany - the town of Lazarus and his sisters. Martha finds out Jesus is coming and she goes out to meet Him. Mary chooses to stay home.
Martha comes out and tells Jesus, "He's dead, if you had been here my brother wouldn't have died but I know that whatever You ask of God He will give it to you."
Martha returns home and tells Mary that Jesus is calling for Mary. Mary goes to Jesus with her heart breaking, weeping with grief, and says "If You had been there, my brother wouldn't have died."
Skipping a lot again, the end of the story is Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. They all live happily ever after.
I told you it was the cliff notes version - just go read John chapter 11 and then come back. Really.
Here's what grips me.
Mary stays home.
I've been the girl that stayed home. Angry, bitter, hurt that Jesus didn't do what I wanted Him to do. What's that? Jesus is passing this way? Well, He didn't come when I really needed Him to, so He's probably not coming this way for me now - and even if He is, who wants Him? I needed Him TWO DAYS AGO. Today is too late.
But even in that anger, when someone comes up and says "Jesus is asking for you" there's something inside us - even when we hate that part of ourselves - that gets to our feet. It takes us where we swore we were strong enough not to go. I'm strong enough to hate Him. I'm strong enough not to care. But no, He calls, and we go. We go and we fling ourselves and our hurts and anger and bitterness at Him. 'YOU FAILED ME" is what we all say. For Mary her "You failed me" came out as "If you had been here". You words might be "If you had stopped the drunk driver...", "If you had taken away the cancer...", "If you had kept my husband faithful...", "If you had spared my child...", "If you had helped me keep my job...", "If you had protected me..."
Regardless of the words we use, the meaning is still the same. "You've failed me." And that's exactly what Mary said, broken and weeping at Jesus' feet.
If she had stayed home. If she had refused to come at His call, I believe Jesus was still prepared to work His miracle. And everyone would have seen it except one of the people that truly needed to see it. She would have been locked away in her bitterness and missed the miracle in her attempt to shut out the Rescuer.
I want to be the girl who comes when Jesus calls, no matter how angry, hurt, or confused I might be. Because I don't want to miss the miracle.
Martha comes out to Jesus with the news Jesus is too late, Lazarus is dead. They then begin a theological discussion on the 2nd coming and the resurrection of the dead in the last days.
Mary comes out to Jesus with the news Jesus is too late, Lazarus is dead. She weeps and throws herself at His feet. He weeps with her.
Here's what I like about this because I've been both of these people. I've been the one standing there saying "I know you can raise people from the dead." and I've been the one weeping "He's dead!" The greatest thing about each of these is that Jesus didn't weep with Martha, and He didn't have a theological discussion with Mary.
Maybe I could have a theological discussion with Jesus - but if I weep and mourn and hurt, He will meet me exactly where I'm at on the road. It's the first example I recall seeing in the Bible where He responds to the exact same situation two different ways. I like that.
I think Martha is a liar. And I love her for it.
Maybe she's not, maybe the writer of John (most likely John) simply didn't include the conversation but; my Bible shows Martha and Jesus have a theological discussion. The end. The next verse:
"And when she had said, she went her way, and called Mary he sister secretly saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee."
Umm... No He didn't. And why are you sneaking around secretly Martha?
When you know someone is at odds with Jesus, you'll do whatever you need to to get them to His feet. Martha did.
Last but not least.
The verse right after the one I just quoted shows Mary getting up and going to Jesus. The next verse after that says Jesus was in the place where Martha met Him.
Why did Jesus quit walking into town? Why did Jesus sit down and not go anywhere?
I think sometimes we get all lovey gooey with Him and expect Him to come into our house and wallow in our sadness with us when we're mad at Him. And a lot of times He does. But I think this is an example of something very important.
We have to get up and go.
There's an old song that says "He came to me when I could not go to where He was." But there are times in our lives when we could go to where He was, we were just too angry to. Jesus was on His way to them.... but then He stopped and let Mary come to Him.
Transportation back then was foot. She was walking. Martha was walking back to the house from there - either way, between the two women walking back and forth Jesus was sitting there a good amount of time. Which leads me to the conclusion - He's doing this on purpose.
It may sound strange, and I probably will never repeat this idea when I'm angry or hurt, but I need a God who will make me get up and go to Him sometimes.
How about you?