“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet….” (John 11:32)
Jesus is four days late, and his friends Martha and Mary are not exactly pleased.
Knowing their desperate need, he has not bothered to respond. It seems that Jesus is totally indifferent to their predicament and has left them out in the cold, in that dreadful place of disappointment.
In John chapter 11, we learn that their brother Lazarus is deathly ill; Jesus is notified about the dilemma, and he delays coming to their rescue intentionally.
When he finally makes an appearance, Martha sprints out of the house toward him with words that smack of accusation: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).
A few moments later, Martha notifies Mary that Jesus is calling. She, too, hurries to meet him, complaining with the exact words Martha used earlier. Behind their identical criticism, we can surmise their agonizing heartache as they nursed their brother, watched him slip away, prepared him for burial, and laid his lifeless body in a tomb.
Far more significantly than the similarity of their words is the way they respond to Jesus. In both scenes the women rush toward the Lord, charge directly toward the only One who can make a difference. They are grievously disappointed with their outcome, aching from their loss, broken over their unanswered pleas. Yet they teach us precisely how to react when we are faced with stressful situations.
When nothing makes sense, when life is unfair, and when everything seems out of control, Mary and Martha exemplify how to respond. We, too, should run toward the Lord, throw ourselves on his mercy, and voice our complaint specifically in his direction.
Neither of the women ran away from the Lord. Nor did they keep silent. They did not remain where they were once they heard he was near. And when Jesus got ready to unlock the doorway to death, these two honest women were in the perfect position to witness the marvelous miracle he had intended all along.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell