After the death of their brother, Mary and Martha were grief-stricken. Lazarus had been dead for four days and quite a crowd of mourners had gathered by the time Jesus arrived. Mary fell at his feet when she saw him and when Jesus observed her and the others weeping, he “groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33). Keep in mind that Lazarus and his sisters were close friends with Jesus and had hosted him in their home many times. Yet, after their brother died, the sisters could not seem to comprehend that Jesus could work a miracle.
Before Jesus’ encounter with Mary, Martha had gone out to meet him: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (John 11:21-22). What a phenomenal statement of faith! Yet, when Jesus told her that her brother would rise again, she responded, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day” (11:24). What happened? Just that quickly, Martha put the possibility off into the future. She simply could not believe for the present.
After Martha relegates Jesus’ statement to the future, he says to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (11:25-26).
When Jesus got to the place where Lazarus was, he began to weep, not only because of all the unbelief surrounding him but because he saw every situation where this scene would play itself out in the future — every person, every family, every instance where his people simply would not believe in his ability to bring life out of death.
This is the dilemma of the ages! God speaks and we agree — but only to a certain point. For example, many believers say, “I believe Jesus is coming again for his saints … someday.” But the return of Jesus is imminent and his resurrection life is for us right now. Let us genuinely believe Matthew 19:26 that says, “With God all things are possible” — today!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.