Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.’
John 11:21-22 Jerusalem Bible
Like Martha, we bring to the Lord’s attention some calamity that has occurred, reminding Him that it could’ve been avoided, if He had been here. Also like her, we are willing to give Him a second chance to make things right. We pull out our trump card, faith, which the Lord has given us, and we hope we can use it to press home our request, ‘From my lips, to God’s ear.’
‘Your brother,’ said Jesus to her, ‘will rise again.’ Martha said, ‘I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.’
John 11:23-24 JB
Having made our request, like Martha we hear the word of Jesus, that everything will be made right, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ His word does not satisfy us. It has no setting in time or place. From our point of view, as from hers, it’s not enough. We have to let Him know that somehow. We take what He tells us, and protest, ‘Eventually it will be alright, but what about right now?’
Like the rich man in Hades, we want someone to rise from the dead ‘to give them a warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too’ (Luke 16:28), and we too meet with the word, ‘They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them’ (Luke 16:29).
We take His living word, ‘he will rise again,’ and turn it into a doctrinal statement, ‘I know he will rise again on the last day.’ That’s our response. The Lord speaks to us what we know to be an incredible word, ‘he will rise again’ and, as if to shame Him or console ourselves for having a powerless god, we respond, almost impersonally, ‘Yes, yes, we know all that! Like everyone else, he will rise on the last day, but, but we don’t want to wait till then!’ To us, the last day is infinitely remote. We want God’s judgment now, and in our favor.
Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’
John 11:25-26 JB
We asked for it, without really knowing what we were asking for, just as Martha did. The Lord never comes to us to discuss doctrine or to play faith games. He cannot be shamed, tricked or tempted into doing our will. No, He comes for one thing, and one thing only, to do the will of His Father who is in heaven. That’s how and why He came in His incarnation. That is how and why He comes to us now, abiding with us as He promised, ‘I am with you always; yes, to the end of time’ (Matthew 28:20).
He was, is, and always will be here for us with His all-powerful word. Do we receive that word? Do we receive Him as He speaks it to us? Do we hear Him ask us the question on which all things depend, ‘Do you believe this?’