There are times when our expectations of Jesus don’t correspond to what He will actually do. Mary and Martha, two of Jesus’ dearest friends, certainly experienced this reality first hand. They expected Jesus to come running and heal their brother when he was gravely ill; however, Jesus stayed away until Lazarus was dead and buried. But let’s back the story up a bit.
We first encounter Mary and Martha in the home. You probably know the story. Martha has invited Jesus over to have a meal, and she is busily rushing about, doing all the work of preparation. Meanwhile, her sister Mary is resting at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him as He teaches. Jesus gently corrects Martha when she voices exasperation. He then goes on to commend Mary’s choice as being the better decision (Luke 10:38-42). Apparently Martha was a “doer” and Mary was more of a “learner” – at least on this occasion.
But time has passed. The relationship between Jesus, Mary, Martha and Lazarus has deepened so that when the sisters send word for Jesus on the occasion of their brothers’ illness, they are both very surprised when Jesus stays away.
He could have come; but for some reason He did not. When word comes to the sisters that Jesus is finally on His way, only Martha goes to meet Jesus. One of the first things she voices to Jesus is the frustration that if He had been there, her brother would not have died.
Mary says the same thing to Jesus a bit later on. How confusing and difficult it is when Jesus disappoints, and we can’t understand why!
Perhaps this is part of the reason Mary stayed at home initially, and only Martha went to meet Jesus. Maybe it wasn’t just grief that kept Mary home. Maybe it was also her disappointment with Jesus.
He could have come and healed her brother; but He didn’t. How disappointing! Jesus didn’t show till after Lazarus was dead and buried in the tomb. He didn’t arrive until four days had passed since the burial. Such confusion and sadness due to loss: Loss of a loved one, as well as the loss of realized expectation concerning Jesus.
Have you ever been disappointed with Jesus? Has He ever acted in ways you just don’t understand? The holidays can resurface such disappointments sometimes. Maybe illness has robbed you of a relationship with someone you love. Worse yet, maybe disappointment has robbed you of your expectation concerning who Jesus is, and what He will do for you.
The story ends on a high note, as Jesus calls forth Lazarus from the tomb raising him from the dead. Grief is turned to joy as the Author of life puts on display a hint of the future Kingdom when all things are made right, loss is recovered, grief is gone and nothing but reunion and joy remains.
Of course, your story, our stories in this life may not end in such splendor. We may have to wait for that final day for reunion and ultimate joy to occur. Life in this age is raw and edgy, and sometimes has more sorrows than we think Jesus should allow. Thankfully, this is not all there is. Whether Jesus shows up and does what you expect Him to do – or not – will you still go to Him and serve Him?
In the first part of John 12 (vss.1-3), we see Mary interacting with Jesus again. This time she is taking a very expensive bottle of perfume, pouring it on Jesus’ feet and drying His feet with her hair. Obviously, this is an act of love and devotion that bears witness to a restored faith and a grateful heart. Would you do that for Jesus if He were here? Maybe He is here – maybe in the least of these.
One way to relieve the depth of sorrows in our own hearts is by turning our attention to the relief of the sorrows of others. Is there someone you can serve or comfort in Jesus’ name this holiday season? Maybe you have space in your home and in your heart to take in a child from the local OKDHS shelter for a night or two on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That would be a moment of relief for that child, as well as a blessing to your family.
For more information, please contact James Hunt at email@example.com or 405.503.4092.