17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Then 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." 28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, "The Teacher has come and is calling for you." 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, "She is going to the tomb to weep there." 32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, "See how He loved him!" 37 And some of them said, "Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?"
Questions to Consider:
When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. This means that Lazarus was certifiably dead by any measure. According to Jewish laws and customs, when a person dies they are buried before the sun goes down on the same day with the exception of the Sabbath, in which case they are buried on the following day. The burial is then followed by seven days of mourning. Which means that Jesus and the disciples arrived in the time period dedicated to mourning over the death of Lazarus.
Martha left the mourners gathered at her house and met with Jesus before He arrived at the house. Martha engages Jesus in a passionate discussion which revealed Martha's faith in Jesus. Martha has three declarations of faith. 1) "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." 2) "Even now I know whatever You ask of God, God will give You." 3) "I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, Who is come into the world."
I do not believe that Jesus waited until after Lazarus died in order to test Martha's faith. Even after Lazarus had been dead for 4 days, Martha still believed that Jesus had the power to raise him from the dead. However, many of the Jews that gathered at Martha and Mary's house were skeptical of Jesus. I believe that Jesus waited for 3 reasons: 1) v.4 For the Glory of God. 2) v.15 That the disciples would believe. 3) So that the Jews would have no excuse for rejecting Jesus.
Martha went back to her home to tell Mary that Jesus had arrived. Mary immediately left to go see Jesus and the Jews followed her. So, there was a procession that made their way to Jesus who was waiting on the outskirts of the town. Mary fell at the feet of Jesus, and through the tears she reiterated the words of her sister, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."
Jesus emotionally responded to Mary and wept with her. Then Jesus took the first step towards arguably, outside His own resurrection, the greatest miracle of His public ministry. He asked the crowd that had gathered, "Where have you laid him?" And they responded, "Lord, come and see."
On the way to the tomb of Lazarus, the Jews tossed around some ideas concerning Jesus. v.36 "See how He loved him!" v.37 "Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?" Of course the answer to their veiled accusation is that Jesus could have kept Lazarus from dying and better yet, after four days of being in the tomb, Jesus could raise him from the dead.
Lead Teaching Elder: