Mary and Martha watched their brother struggle to the point of death. Sometimes are biggest struggles are watching others suffer. Maybe you’re like Mary and Martha. Do you struggle to watch others suffer, and bear the weight of their pain? Are you witnessing a friend or family member suffer and you keep asking why? You mau simply turn on the news and battle the weight of injustice that feels too widespread to cure. Mary and Martha witnessed their brother Lazarus struggle to the point of death. Their neighbors comforted them as they suffered, but when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick he did not immediately go and visit them. When Jesus arrived at the sisters’ house Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days.
When Jesus arrived he brought more than a card. Jesus brought the power to heal.
Mary confronts him and states, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). Mary watched her brother struggle to the point of death. She bore this sorrow inside for days before Jesus reached out. Her neighbors came to comfort her. Her sister was home to comfort her, but Jesus did not show up when she thought she needed him most. Mary was hurt, and she did not go outside to meet Jesus when he arrived. (John 11:6, John 11:20). When a friend doesn’t show up for you in your darkest moments do you become bitter? Are you disappointed when people don’t support and comfort you in the way that you see fit?
The day Jesus showed up Mary had to make a choice to trust or to doubt God even if trusting him meant Lazarus stayed in the grave.
The fourth day Lazarus was dead may have been more painful than the first day he died. The fourth day Mary had to face Jesus knowing that he was all powerful, but allowed Lazarus to suffer, and knowing that he was all-knowing but stayed in Jerusalem. She had to suffer not only the death of her brother but the absence of her God. On the fourth day Mary looked Jesus in the face and saw who he really was, not who she wanted him to be. He didn’t ease her suffering when the first tear fell. He didn’t call to check in on the second day, and he didn’t send flowers on the third day. On the third day, Jesus started walking. Jesus was working while Mary was waiting. (John 11:6) If Jesus rose on the third day should Lazarus have risen on the third day?
We can look at God and expect him to follow a sequence.
You might be wondering why these numbers are important. There is more to resurrection than what the eye can see. Lazarus did not rise on the third day, but the process of resurrection began on the third day. God is working even when we can’t see his hands, but he is gracious enough to show us his fingerprints as proof. Jesus understood that the process of resurrection wasn’t enough to cure Mary’s grief, but that didn’t devalue the process he started on day three. Day three is a symbol of resurrection for the afflicted, but day four is a symbol of resurrection for the observer of the afflicted. Day four is when the griever is given hope.
Jesus didn’t appear to every observer on the day of his resurrection.
Some observers doubted his resurrection like Mary doubted that Lazarus would be resurrected. These individuals received hope after the third day had passed. “Doubting Thomas” is a classic example. (John 20:24-29). When Jesus arrived on the fourth day he knew that Mary had watched Lazarus suffer. He knew she had watched Martha wrestle with grief. He knew she was hurting. Jesus knew his presence would not only heal Lazarus, but heal Mary’s doubt (John 11:32-34).
Unlike Thomas, Mary didn’t see scars on Jesus’ hands, but she did witness the work of his hands.
If you’re watching someone suffer know that God is working. Even if you can’t see him he is walking towards Bethany and your day four will come. Not all of us will experience healing on this earth, but God offers eternal healing through his son. The word Bethany means the house of song and affliction in Hebrew, and Lazarus means assistance of God. So remember, there can be Joy in mourning.
Never Give Up,