May 31 – Trip to the Holy Land – Bethany

Day 19 – BETHANY

Theme: The Resurrection & the life

Read John 11:17-44

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These words of Jesus are often read at funerals: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25-26a NIV)

It shouldn’t surprise us to learn that they were first uttered by the Lord at the death of Lazarus, one of his dearest friends. Yet the story presents some interesting twists and turns.

Previously, Mary and Martha had sent word to Jesus that their brother was dying. You’d think Jesus would respond immediately because these people were like family to him. He often stayed at their home in the town of Bethany just on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives.  He had enjoyed their fellowship, benefited from their financial support & eaten their food. We are tempted to ask: Didn’t He care enough to help them?

But He did not respond according to their timetable. Instead the Bible says “… He stayed where he was two more days.” (John 11: 6b- NIV). As usual, Jesus had a master plan in mind that was not evident to his friends. In fact, the Jews did not believe that the body was separated from the spirit at death until after three days. So Jesus chose to wait until the fourth day when it would be clear to everyone that Lazarus was dead.

When He finally arrived in Bethany, Martha had a problem with His timing, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21).   Did you ever feel like saying that to the Lord?  Did you ever feel like saying, “God, where were You when I needed You most?” If you’ve ever thought those words, you are in good company.

In fact, Mary said exactly the same thing to Jesus in John 11:32: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Sometimes we think that Martha, the servant, and Mary, the worshiper, always had different answers for the same problem. Not this time! They both knew the Only One who could remedy this situation was Jesus. They knew He alone could bring life out of death.

So, in perhaps the most dramatic phrase in the Bible, Jesus went to the grave of His buddy and cried in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!“. Imagine the drama when “The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of lemon, and a cloth around his face” (John 11:44).

Rarely has God chosen to work in such a dramatic way in human history – but He still brings life out of dead situations. A dead church experiences revival. A dead relationship is restored. A dead future is transformed.

Where do you feel completely helpless today? Where is it that you need God’s help in a hopeless situation? Why not turn to Him like Martha and believe that He is “the resurrection and the life?”

Prayer of reflection:  Thank you, Jesus, that You are the One who brings life out of death.  Please work in my life today to restore broken relationships and provide hope to those around me who are hopeless.

Bob Fetterhoff

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