Click on the link for the audio version: https://youtu.be/PuwDUvyX3uM
Prepare to Listen. Still your heart and mind with this prayer from Psalm 19: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Prayerfully Read John 11:17-27
17When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ 23Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ 24Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ 25Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ 27She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’
When Martha heard that Jesus had finally arrived, she did something a woman wasn’t permitted to do. She went alone to meet him. Instead of rebuking her, he too ignored cultural norms about women’s behavior, and treated her as a worthy equal. He accepted her accusation: ‘‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” It’s the same accusation Mary made when she saw Jesus, also alone (v32).
Martha and Mary experienced something common to followers of Jesus—when he’s most needed, he’s absent. That’s how it feels when he doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want. Many of us have prayed for the end of covid-19, yet it continues to rage. With Martha and Mary, we too have complained, Lord, if you’d been here, this wouldn’t have happened. The truth is Jesus appears absent as we go through suffering. We can learn from Martha. Despite her experience of Jesus’ absence, she didn’t reject him. She still believed that he could do something for them. Because she remained true, Jesus gave her an opportunity to confess her faith in him, an opportunity given to very few in the Gospels. He asked, “Do you believe this?” Her response was without hesitation, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
I don’t know why Jesus so often seems absent when we most want him to be there, but when he shows up and reveals himself, he’s likely to ask, “Do you believe this?” It’s up to us to respond.
How will you answer Jesus’ challenge when he comes to you?
Respond to Jesus
Lord, so often I too experience you as absent when I most need you. Help me, like Martha, keep the faith so that I too can confidently say, Lord, I believe. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world. Follow Jesus, even when he seems absent.
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.