Martha Thompson faced a family crisis. Her brother was gravely ill, near death, and she turned to someone she trusted. She asked for her pastor to come, to pray with them. Martha really loved her pastor and thought he was someone very special, very close to God. His prayers for the family had always worked in the past and his ministry would be critical for her brother’s healing.
Unfortunately, the pastor was out-of-town. Being the resourceful person that Martha was, she found out where he was vacationing and sent word that he should come right away.
This pastor loved Martha and her family. He had spent time at their home, eaten at their table and laughed at their jokes. But after he got the message, he did not come back to town right away. He deliberately delayed two days before coming.
And by the time he arrived, Martha’s brother had died, a neighboring pastor had done the funeral and the brother’s body had been in the grave for four days. Needless to say, Martha and her sister Mary were a bit ticked with their pastor. When they heard he was in town, Martha marched right up to him said,
“Jesus, if you had been here, my brother Lazarus would not have died.” John 11:21
This is the point where our lives intersects with the Biblical story. When we face disappointments, trials or set backs, we wonder where God is. What happened to Jesus? Isn’t Jesus suppose to protect us from such pain and grief?
What amazes me is Jesus’ response. He reminds her of the resurrection, the hope of eternal life. Martha responds that such a hope is in the distant future, not much comfort now. Jesus then gives an incredible promise, a fantastic promise: I am the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). Not in the future, “I will be the resurrection,” but right now, in the middle of disappointment, pain and sorrow. I am the resurrection and the life.
Then to demonstrate the power of his promise, he raised Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus makes the same promise to everyone who believes in him. Either this is the promise of a crazy man, or the Son of God.
I get goosebumps when I read this story, especially now that I am serving Resurrection Lutheran Church.
How have you experienced Jesus’ promise of resurrection and life?