Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”– John 11:39-40
John records that Jesus’ encounter with Mary and Martha following the death of their brother Lazarus brought them to a faith crisis. Jesus told those who were grieving to reopen the grave. The idea horrified Martha. She told Jesus that Lazarus was as dead as a doornail and had been so for four days. Opening the grave would cause a stink, she reminded Jesus, but he did not yield. In fact, he pushed the point, “Either you believe or you don’t.” His challenge was to require faith which was more than just words. He was looking for courageous, decisive action. In fact, Jesus tells Martha that she would see and experience the glory of God not merely by holding on to a belief but by living in the absolute confidence that God is actively present.
When we read John’s account, we become aware that Jesus’ words and actions are not just about Lazarus. His words speak to everyone who is bound by past hurts, trapped in grief, imprisoned by fears, shackled by addictions, brain-washed by prejudice, or engaged in any of the other death-traps which destroy us. As we genuinely encounter Christ Jesus, we too face a faith crisis, which moves us from mere words to courageous action. Jesus’ words, “Take away the stone” may be as threatening to us as they were to Martha, but the command is one of grace, not judgment. Jesus assures us that only by exposing the death-places in our lives to his touch, can we experience healing, can we live fully and freely, and can God’s glory be revealed.
Jesus’ command is an invitation to abundant life.
Lord Jesus, give me courage to entrust to your healing touch my fears and failures, my hurts and hang-ups, my sins and sorrows. Amen.
A Bible study devotional blog by Gorman Houston