Mary, Martha, Lazarus & the Comfort of Jesus

Sunday’s Gospel is one of the most important explorations on the subjects, of life, death and resurrection found in scripture. The key persons in this encounter with Jesus are, Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus.

We know, a close family spends quality time with each other because they care and they are special to one another. There are families we know that do things together; enjoy one another, share views, help each other and are very concerned about the welfare of each other. The bond that holds these families together is the bond of love.

If something happens to one of the family members or one of them becomes sick, the entire family hurts. Other family members want to do everything they possible can to help the one who is hurting.

Mary and Martha knew that Jesus was not far away. He was no farther away from them than He is from us today. They loved their brother Lazarus and they also loved Jesus. They wanted Jesus to know that Lazarus was sick just as when we are sick or one of our loved ones are sick, we want our close friends to know. Today, we notify our friends via email or telephone, asking them to lift up our loved one in prayer.

Martha and Mary knew Jesus could help their brother. If we stop and think for a moment, we will realize that things haven’t changed. When we are hurting, in need, or are facing a mountain that seems impossible for us to go over, go around, or tunnel through, to whom do we turn. Right! Jesus! We seek Jesus through our prayers because we know He is always near and ready and willing to listen and come to our aid.

There is no question concerning the love Jesus had for Lazarus, Mary & Martha, but His timing was different. “He stayed two more days in the place where he was” Jesus was being obedient to His Father. His actions were being directed by God the Father. The lesson for us here is that we can never go wrong when we are obedient to God’s word.

When Martha received the news that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. She chastises Him “You came too late” She was still sad and distraught. She thought nothing could be done because of the time lapse when Lazarus had died`, but Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life,” In other words, “with me it is never too late.” He says to her “your brother will rise again.”

Those words put life back into Martha. Hope sprang forth! I can picture the smile on her face and excitement in her words as she says, “Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Jesus’ response with Mary is different. He shows true compassion. He asks where the body has been laid as He weeps. In these encounters we see His wisdom, His humanness and His character and identity.

Although you and I and every other Christian has faced or will face difficult and trying times in life, we must always remember that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever.”

When you and I are in a time of distress, when things are not going our way, when we are hurting, when our vision is clouded by the situation we face, we seek help and that help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. Martha knew that Jesus could give them peace and comfort.

Jesus will do the same for us because we know Him and believe His words. Because of His love and his grace, He will lift the burden from us and place that burden upon His Shoulders. Jesus says to us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

It doesn’t make any difference to Jesus what burden we are carrying, He is willing to lift that burden. It may be sickness, death, sin, stress, difficulties caused by friends, employer, oppression, depression or persecution. He is ready to help us. He is there for us. Believe in His words.

Martha had already met Jesus and received comfort, but she wanted her sister Mary to come and meet Jesus so that she too could be relieved of the burden of distress.

No matter what our circumstances are, no matter what we are facing, no matter what has happened to us, no matter our status in life, there is joy in knowing that we are in the presence of Jesus. He is within our hearts in the person of the Holy Spirit.