So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
John 11:3 (NIV)
This message has been sent to Jesus countless times – for generations, by many and will continue.
In reading John 11, there is a progression of faith, a story of family love and evidence of Christ’s love for mankind.
Mary and Martha are Lazarus’s sisters and like most sisters, love their brother deeply. Love him enough to bring his illness before their friend Jesus of Nazareth.
We are told by John it was Mary who poured perfume on Jesus’s feet (John 11:2), showing us Mary had already been at the feet of Jesus. She knew Him and His majesty. She knew His power, His love and His purpose. Mary poured out her heart once, now she is pouring it out again.
Faith is a muscle which needs constant tending and care so it does not become stagnant, spastic or atrophied. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrew 12:2) indicating we are given faith - it is not something we conjure up. It is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9); however, we are given the opportunity to walk in faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:17) and to believe without seeing.
Our mustard seed sized faith can move mountains (Matthew 17:20-21). Our faith can believe and not doubt. Our faith can grow because Jesus, being the Author, is daily writing our faith. He is taking pen to paper (His power, our hearts) and instilling into us what we need to live that day. It is present tense.
One needs to look to the past to see the faithfulness of God – a history lesson with Truth for us today. Since God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), we can rest in this fact He will never change.
So why do we doubt?
“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” John 11:27 (NIV)
Martha got it. She believed Jesus was the Son of God, she believed He heard their cry for help – even though it had been days earlier when it was sent. She trusted. She had served Jesus a meal in her own home. She was the one who was distracted by the cares of the moment to enjoy Jesus’s company. (See Luke 10:38-42).
And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and he is asking for you.” John 11:29 (NIV)
Have you experienced the thrill of being asked for, asked about, or looked for? Such as a marriage proposal, a visit with a dear friend you haven’t seen in a while or a call back for a prestigious job? Emotions run high, heart races, anticipation builds. And action is called for. You do just as Mary did – she quickly got up and went to Him (John 11:29).
But do you do the same with Jesus? He calls for us every day. Do you run to Him? Do you find yourself in the throne room with your joys and laughter, cares and tears? Or does the door not swing open very often on your side? Do you go when you are backed up against a wall with no way out, or do you enter in the Presence of God because you just want to sit and be still?
Faith can wax and wane. One day we can be filled with faith ready to conquer; other days, we are cowering in fear. Then there are days we coast – like a long ride on a surfboard on the Waikiki waters. This beach is known for its long waves. Not its high powerful waves, but the gentle ones which glide into shore. Is your faith like this?
As the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus moves along, Martha has a crisis of faith. The sisters had enough faith to send for Jesus. Martha had enough faith to make a statement of faith declaring Jesus as the Son of God, yet at the point of true belief, she stumbled.
“But, Lord,” Martha said, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” John 11:45 (NIV)
It is interesting to note John points out to us Martha is the sister of the dead man. However, Martha herself refrains from calling Lazarus dead. Only implying death because of the odor in the tomb. She did the math –
4 days in a tomb = death
Do you frequently do the math? Do you calculate how long since you’ve waited for a phone call, a report, or how many hours you’ve sat in a chair? I believe it’s when we start counting our faith falters, begins to crumble and sometimes even shatters.
It is a matter of where we put our eyes. Who we are looking at, and looking for. Are we like Simeon who looked and longed for the Consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25)? Are we looking to Jesus our Shepherd who leads and guides us in our pastures of life? Or are we off doing our own thing filled with fright and spinning in circles?
Do we listen to the noise of the crowd or the voice of our Shepherd? Do we want the loud thunder, the writing on the wall or can we be content with the still whisper? Are we looking for Jesus to walk by our boat so we can walk out to Him, or are we content knowing He sees us in our storm from the shore and He knows what we are going through? And do we trust Him when we see Him sleep on a pillow in our storm – He’s not afraid, so why should we be?
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God today?” John 11:40 (NIV)
What are you doubting and what is Jesus asking you to believe?
Father God, Your Son is the Author of my faith and I am thankful He is perfecting it every day. I confess my doubts. All of them. The ones about ______ and ______ and I ask forgiveness. I believe. I trust. I believe without the need to see. You are right - I am to walk behind Your lead and to have faith. Period. Help me Lord, I am desperate without You. In the Name of Jesus, I do pray. AMEN