As Jesus and His disciples journeyed to Bethany, word of His arrival reached Martha. She had certainly heard of the tumult that had occurred in Jerusalem over the past few weeks. According to verse 37, word about Jesus healing the blind man had already preceded Jesus to Bethany; no doubt, the other details about the attempted stoning by the Pharisees had also reached the three sibling-friends of Jesus.
Now, as Jesus approached the town, Martha met Him along the way. “Jesus, if you had just been here four days ago, you could have healed Lazarus.” Martha was a believer, a Christian. But even believers at times miss the greater realities of Jesus. In this case, she perceived that the glory of God could only be found in the healing of Lazarus. She didn’t realize that perhaps God intended for Lazarus to die, and had brought about the death of Lazarus that He might receive greater glory.
John tells us that after professing to Jesus that she trusted Him and believed that He was indeed the Christ, the Messiah, Martha sent a messenger to retrieve Mary out of the house where she had been grieving. Because of the close proximity to Jerusalem, many people from Jerusalem had gathered to comfort Martha and Mary. Hurrying out of the house, Mary gathered an entire entourage of followers that assumed she was going to weep at the grave side.
But as Mary hurried down the trail, she headed away from the tomb, and out of town. I imagine that the crowd bustled a few hundred feet behind Mary trying to keep up, but grew more and more curious as she left town. From a distance they saw her stop on the trail and fall to the feet of a man on the trail. The Jerusalem folk certainly began to recognize Him as they drew closer; it was Jesus, the one who had caused the uproar in Jerusalem after healing the blind and the lame.
Mary repeated the truth that Martha had thought, and that the crowd was certainly thinking, “Jesus if you had been here four days ago, you could have healed Lazarus.” The crowd murmured amongst themselves, “He opened the eyes of the blind, if He had been here, He could have healed Lazarus.” After speaking briefly with Mary, Jesus walked down the path to the grave. Arriving at the tomb, Jesus instructed the men to remove the stone. Martha interjected, “Jesus, he has been dead for four days.”
At this point, Jesus stopped her and said, “You will see the glory of God.” This was the same message He had told to the disciples in verse 4 before telling them that they needed to wait a few more days before heading to Bethany. Jesus had let Lazarus die instead of rushing to heal him. Why? So that there would be no disputing Who He really was. With the stone rolled away, and with authority unlike any who had ever walked on the earth, Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come forth.”
In an instant there was stirring in the tomb, as Lazarus came walking out of the tomb. Lame bodies healed, that was impressive. Blinded eyes, no one had ever done that. Power over death, this truly was the Son of God. The truth was undeniable for all those who were there. Lazarus had been dead for four days. Now, Jesus showed up and raised Him from the dead. There was no refuting the evidence. God had come in the flesh, Jesus truly is the Christ.
Food For Thought: Read John 11:4-6. Why did Jesus wait to go to Bethany? According to verse 45, what was the result?