Recently one of our Pastors spoke about the story of Lazarus. It was such a powerful word that I have been mulling over various parts of it ever since. There was one part though that still sticks in my spirit and challenges me. Prior to Lazarus passing away Jesus spent time with Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is probably a familiar sounding story because so often we are taught about how Mary chose the better action by sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha bustled around serving everyone. I admit that though I see the wisdom of Mary's choice I have only recently begun to realize that my opinion of these ladies was based on a single moment and it has caused me to dwell on the bigger relationship these sisters had with Jesus. While Mary was extolled for sitting in the presence of Jesus in Luke 10: 38-42
"38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at [a]Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And [b]Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
I find it very interesting that later in John 11:20-27 it is Martha who runs to meet Jesus after her brother has passed away.
20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Here is what has been bouncing around in my spirit for the past two weeks. We have this beautiful picture of relationship between Mary and Jesus when she is sitting at his feet but when she hits a hard place in her life what does she do? Does she turn to the One she can trust? Does she lean on that relationship knowing that it is the source of comfort, peace and strength that she needs? Does she still believe that Jesus is the Messiah? Or in her difficulty did her doubt lead her to believe a smaller vision of who Jesus is? We see in John 11:20 that while Martha ran out to meet Jesus when He was a few miles from the house Mary sat down in the house. She was disappointed that Jesus had not come earlier to save her brother. She didn't trust that He could still do the miraculous. Further still she did not see Jesus that same way. Even as Martha meets Jesus we see that she questions this too and Jesus responds by saying "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." then He asks her "Do you believe this?". Right there is the moment that captured me. In the hard place, when nothing made sense and her heart was broken she had a choice to either trust Jesus or not. I believe she had this chance because she went out to meet Jesus. She chose to set aside her doubt, uncertainty and grief to seek His presence. Mary on the other hand sat in His presence when it was convenient for her, when Jesus had come to fellowship at her very own house. When the hard times came for Mary she sat in that same house and missed His presence because it didn't fit her expectations. Jesus didn't do things the way she thought He should, when He should or in a way that made sense to her. Martha however still believed that Jesus was the same on that day of grief as He had been when He ate at her table.
How many times do we fall into this same pattern? We allow circumstances to change our view of Jesus. We must choose to remind ourselves that "He is the resurrection and the life" now. This is not a someday statement that means if we just bear up long enough someday we will see resurrection power. It is a now statement! He IS the resurrection! Let's challenge ourselves; are we seeking Jesus when its easy and convenient and when He is accessible? Or do we really believe that Jesus is the One who died for us and was raised again to have all power and dominion? If we believe that Jesus suffered and died for us because He was so moved by love for us than why would we doubt that He is still loving us? Let us be like Martha and run to meet Him, sharing our heart with Him and allowing His grace, mercy and love to pour over our lives! Let's go beyond a single moment of His presence and seek an ongoing trust in who He is. He desires for us to have a deep abiding relationship where we seek Him, turn to Him and trust in who He is even in the hard places.