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.” – John 11:28 NKJV
In the Gospel of John, we read a familiar story. Mary and Martha have just experienced the loss of their brother, Lazarus. Their close friend, Jesus, was not there and in fact we know from earlier in this chapter that he actually delayed His visit. It was during this delay that Lazarus died. But like a well written play, a new character enters the stage as Jesus arrives to the area.
As noted in verse 20, the two sisters have very different reactions. Mary chose to stay a home with her grief, while Martha went to Jesus. While the text does not say Martha ran to Jesus, I tend to think she very well may have done so. Martha and Jesus have a conversation in which He very clearly states, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. And whoever who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” This short conversation with Jesus was the comfort Martha needed.
Mary on the other hand, chose to stay at her house. A house filled with grief.
When facing grief, we have a choice. We can remain in our state of grief, refusing to find comfort and solace in the One who has overcome death, or we can run to Him. Many, who are terribly hurt, wounded and disappointed, never or rarely, move beyond their grief. But others make the choice Martha did. They go to Jesus.
Jesus was right there for Martha. His words to her gently reminded her that He is the single vehicle of redemption from death. He isn’t ignoring the reality of physical death, but He is saying there is much more to life than suffering, death and dying. Martha, while still struggling with her grief, was not going to let that keep her from the One who could comfort her during this crisis. That is the first lesson from Martha I glean from this passage.
However, there is a second lesson I see in this story. It is found in Martha’s response in verse 28. She goes to her sister and gently encourages her to go to Jesus. She tells her, “The Teacher, (Jesus) is calling for you.” Martha doesn’t scold her sister for her grief or even try to explain anything to her. She merely encourages her sister to go to Jesus. Mary then rose “quickly” and went to Jesus. Martha models for us a role we can perform when we are surrounded by grief. We can gently but confidently, encourage people to go to Jesus.
Don’t chose to exist in a permanent state of grief away from Jesus. But run to Him, taking your grief to Him and allow Him to the source of your comfort. By doing so, you can encourage others to do the same. Pointing them to the One who has defeated death!
Blessings my friend!