December 11, 2017
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
We have to step back a bit and look at what happened just before Jesus made His profound statement of John 11:25 and 26, which ended with the challenge, “Do you believe this? ” and to which Martha confessed, “Yes, Lord, I believe…” (John 11:27). Let’s examine John 11:21 through 24:
…Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would
not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God
will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha
said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last
• John 11:21 – “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
✞ Martha, obviously, had heard about Jesus’ miracles – many of which involved healing! (See for instance John 4:46-54; Mark 1:21-28; 1:40-45; Luke 8:43-46; 17:11-19). So she thought that had the Lord been there four days earlier, her brother Lazarus would still be alive!
✞ She should also have called to mind how Jesus brought the dead back to life! It is probable that she had heard the reports of two previous incidents where He had raised the dead:
▸ Luke 7:11 through 17 – the son of the widow of Nain.
▸ Mark 5:22 and 23, 35 through 43 – Jairus’ daughter.
• John 11:22 – “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” This is a powerful statement of faith! But, as we shall see, Martha’s faith was still limited! We can confess strong declarations of faith. But when it comes down to acting on our declarations, we too often fall short!
✞ We are, in many instances, like the man who brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus in Mark 9:17 through 27. Here is the interaction between the boy’s father and the Lord – verses 23 and 24 (East-to-Read Version):
“The spirit often throws him into a fire or into water to kill him. If you
can do anything, please have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to the
father, “Why did you say ‘if you can’? All things are possible for the
one who believes.”
✞ Strong and effective faith is as James describes in James 1:6 through 8 (God’s Word to the Nations):
When you ask for something, don’t have any doubts. A person who has
doubts is like a wave that is blown by the wind and tossed by the sea. A
person who has doubts shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the
Lord. A person who has doubts is thinking about two different things
at the same time and can’t make up his mind about anything.
✞ Perhaps Martha was thinking, “Yes, I believe whatever Jesus asks of the Father, God will give it to Him. But will He ask concerning my brother? Will He do this for me?” That is a lot like us! We think, “I know He can do it, but will He?”
• John 11:23 – “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ ” Resurrection of the dead is prophesied in the Old Testament in such passages as…
✞ …Job 19:25 and 26 – “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.”
✞ …Daniel 12:2 – “…many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
✞ …Psalm 16:9 through 11 – “…my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will you allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life….”
✞ …Isaiah 26:19 – “Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust…the earth shall cast out the dead.”
✞ …Hosea 13:14 – “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! ”
…and Martha was familiar with these Hebrew Scriptures!
However, as shown in the following verses, Jesus was referring to His immediate power over life and death (see Revelation 1:18), not just concerning the future resurrection! But Martha was thinking more about the resurrection at the end of time!
What about your conception of God’s power? Which is easier to grasp?
✞ …that Jesus has all power over life and death, and He will demonstrate that in the future?
✞ …that He will enter into your immediate need now with His unlimited power?
• John 11:24 – “Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ ” This statement of Lazarus’ sister shows that she was trusting in the power of the Lord for the distant future, and not for the immediate resolution of the problem at hand!
• There is another verse, John 11:39, that displays Martha’s doubts about Jesus’ power! At Lazarus’ tomb, “Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha…said to Him, ‘ Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.’ ” In her mind, her brother was dead and decaying! And he would remain in that condition until the end of days!
But Jesus was about to change her whole faith outlook by what He said in the next verses, John 11:25 and 26….