Message Not Delivered!
Technology is advancing rapidly in this day and age, but it can still fail us at times. Like when “Message not delivered!” pops up under a text message in red letters. You have no idea why, you didn’t do anything different with this message than you did the last thousand that you’ve sent, but for some reason the technology failed and the message was not delivered. Sometimes we can feel this way with our prayers. We call out to Jesus, we know we need help, but nothing happens and it feels like the message was not delivered. Mary and Martha could relate to this feeling. They were friends of Jesus and their brother Lazarus was sick.
“So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, ‘Lord, your dear friend is very sick.’ But when Jesus heard about it he said, ‘Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.’ So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.” (John 11:3-6)
Mary and Martha did what they were supposed to do. They had faith, they knew Jesus could heal Lazarus, so they reached out to Him. But Jesus didn’t come. This scenario can sound all too familiar to us. Jesus got the message, but He knows what we don’t: He knows the outcome. He was not concerned or worried and He did not rush off as Martha and Mary would have liked. Jesus knows the outcomes of our situations as well and His timing is always perfect.
“When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.” (John 11:17)
From our limited perspective, Jesus is too late. Can you imagine what Martha and Mary were going through at this point? Many of us can. They’ve asked for Jesus to come and heal their brother and Jesus didn’t come. Lazarus died and has been in the grave for four days. They have been mourning the loss of their brother and here comes the one person who could have saved him. He’s just too late.
“When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house.” (John 11:20)
I might have stayed in the house, too. Letting anger control me is a struggle I have, and I think I would have been angry at Jesus for showing up several days late. I get upset over little things that don’t seem to reach Jesus’ ears. I see another potential, costly problem happening with the house, I pray against it, but the problem still occurs, more money is spent, and I feel that anger rise. From my limited perspective, Jesus was late. Martha, however, demonstrated great faith even still.
“Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.’” (John 11:21-22)
She professed faith and belief in Jesus even through her mourning and disappointment. She knew that death would not stop God. Jesus told her that Lazarus would indeed rise again and Martha knew this: “at the last day,” she said.
“Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?’”
“‘Yes, Lord,’ she told him. ‘I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.’” (John 11:25-27)
Martha’s circumstances had not changed in the last few seconds: She asked for Jesus many days ago to heal her brother, Jesus didn’t come and her brother died, and now Jesus came four days after her brother had been in the grave. But Martha’s faith was not based on her circumstances and ours shouldn’t be either. Could we profess such faith to Jesus after He “shows up late”? After we have been disappointed, can we confess this faithfully before him?
Martha brings Mary out to Jesus and the three of them weep and mourn together. Jesus was not above the sorrow, even though he knew what He was about to do, even though He knew all along that “Lazarus’ sickness will not end in death” (John 11:4). He still empathized with Martha and Mary. Those who were mourning saw this and began to question why Jesus didn’t heal Lazarus. But we know what happened next because, truly, Jesus is never late.
“So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.’ Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, ‘Unwrap him and let him go!’” (John 11:41-44)
We often ask, “Why?” Why didn’t Jesus come when we called? Why didn’t He answer my prayer the way I thought He should? For Mary and Martha, that was answered in verse 45.
“Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.” (John 11:45)
That’s what it’s all about: bringing people to faith in Christ. God is always in control, He sees the bigger picture. It is our responsibility to have faith and trust Him. Jesus is never too late. If we have faith in Him, if we seek His will, if our sins are confessed, our messages are always delivered (James 1:5-7, James 4:3, Psalm 66:1). Jesus even tells us in Matthew 6:8 that the Lord knows what we need before we even ask for it. He knows. So let us wait on the Lord’s perfect timing with faith that is unencumbered by circumstance.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.