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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 11:17-37 (ESV)

Posted on August 24, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 11:17-37 (ESV) - Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

Question to consider: Do you think Martha and Mary were angry with Jesus?

Martha seemed to be a devoutly religious person. She kept a good home and took care of her ailing brother. If her sister was indeed Mary Magdalene, she had long since forgiven her and welcomed her back into the family. She believed in the Resurrection that was to come, and by her own confession in today’s passage, Martha believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.

Like most of us, however, I think Martha struggled to see how everything she believed fit together in Christ Jesus. She had the faith to know that Jesus could have healed her brother if He was there but didn’t consider the fact Jesus could have healed him from the other side of the Jordan with a word. We could say the same about her sister Mary, though Mary, who had been forgiven much, seemed to have a deeper connection to the mercy of God. 

Neither expressed any overt anger with Jesus for showing up after Lazarus had died, but some deeper feelings seemed to be bubbling under the surface. After all, Jesus had healed so many strangers and done so many miraculous signs, there was the lingering thought, “If You had been here…” Some of the people finally asked out loud the question that everyone was thinking, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Why did someone He professed to love have to die such a painful and humiliating death?

Jesus obviously felt the hurt they were experiencing. John wrote that Jesus wept when He saw their grief.  Jesus had a very good reason to let Lazarus die, for He knew what He was about to do. However, the pain is still real, and Jesus grieved that it had to happen this way. 

I believe that Jesus expressed the very heart of God for all of His people when we go through the valley of the shadow of death and grief. No matter how “natural” people try to say death is, it is a terrible rending that has no place in the kingdom of God. This is why all sin— even the eating of forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden— must be atoned for. 

The Lord shepherds us through this valley, and it will one day be a thing of the past, but I believe that Jesus weeps for each one of us, and the evidence of it is displayed every time the body of Christ gathers for a funeral.


Dear heavenly Father, help us to trust in You when we experience times of pain and grief and know that You are leading us through for a wonderful purpose that will one day be a cause for us to rejoice. In the meantime, please grant us Your peace that passes all understanding and keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.