Give Martha the credit she deserves in John 11:21for her confidence in Jesus as the Healer. She may not have heard of the two prior occasions on which he raised someone from the dead (Luke 7:11-17 & Luke 8:40-42). This was therefore her “ground zero” faith-based knowledge base. And this in itself is great. But…
John 11:22 may be an unfortunate verse split of a single statement. The conjunction typically joins two thoughts or statements that the speaker or writer wants to be connected. But “but” is different from “and”. “But” suggests that the next statement is valid although it may not seem to be logical in light of the last statement. Clearly, Martha is saying that although you missed the chance to prevent him from dying, “I know that even now”, God will grant you whatever you ask. Every word in verse 22 is power-packed. Martha “knew”. She did not “suspect” or “guess”. Martha knew that ”whatever” Jesus asked for, His Father would grant Him. There were no limits. Let us recognize that this is a picture of human, fragile faith stretching to extend itself to its higher source. True, she later, in John 11:24, appears to consciously contradict what her subconscious says in John 11:22. Now watch this. When Lazarus was sick, Martha hoped for healing. Now that he is dead, what else could her spirit be subconsciously hoping for as a possibility, except his resurrection? Give the woman credit… and ‘nuff respect’.
Martha’s confidence and belief in Jesus makes sense when you read what she says in John 11:27. She recognized Jesus as the Messiah. And this was not just because she was primed and prompted by Jesus in John 11:25. Note that in John 11:22, the total confidence that she expressed in the meaning of the relationship between Jesus and God, could only mean that she believed Him to be the Son of God, and as such, the Messiah. It is worthy of note that Martha traditionally gets relegated to second place because, whereas her sister Mary was the “worshipper”, Martha was the “worker”. Jesus himself said as much in Luke 10:41-42. But it would appear that amidst her necessary “work”, Martha was doing a little bit of worshipping herself. Oh that we should excel in worship and at the same time be excited about our work of worship, and yet, never worship work.
When Mary arrived, despite her presumed closer relationship with Jesus, she demonstrates that she was at the same level as Martha as we see in John 11:32. Her opening words were identical to those of Martha. However, based on the supplied text, there was no “but…” – the “but” that immediately followed Martha’s opening words in John 11:22. Instead, Mary began to weep, and as would be the custom, she led the mourners in weeping. “Worshipping” alone, in the absence of “work”, can make you weak. It is in the “work”, that we benefit from the exercise of the gains from our worship. The act of weeping indicated that there was no expectation of deliverance. As far as Mary was concerned, unlike Martha, her brother’s death was final, and not even the presence of Jesus could make a difference. Martha was hopeful. Mary was hopeless, and she took the crowd with her. Is it any wonder that this broke the heart of Jesus?
We don’t know what Martha was thinking beyond what is written. But she demonstrated a peace that revealed that she prioritized the presence of the person of Jesus over any promise, prospect or purpose with which she associated Him.
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