APRIL 9: EMPOWERED OR DEVOURED

EMPOWERED OR DEVOURED

By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

"Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming went and met Him, but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, If Thou hadsn't been here, my brother would not have died."
John 11:20-21
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The account of Lazarus (Scripture story reference) is wonderful if you're living it out through the lens of hindsight;
 but Mary and Martha were not.
Mary and Martha were grieving the loss of a beloved brother and experiencing the early stages of extraordinary grief. The absence of Jesus seemed inexcusable, unexplainable, insensitive, and unmerciful.
Hmmm ...
Can you relate, dear reader?
Have you been here?
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It's significant to note that this little cluster of "trio sibling" was well loved, chosen, and engaged in an intimate and rare relationship with Jesus. So intimate in fact, was the bond, that in the early stages of Lazarus's sickness, Jesus received a summons to come to him.
"Therefore his sisters sent unto Him saying, Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick."
John 11:3
Not only does Jesus not respond, my friend, to this initial summons but He curiously and mysteriously goes about the routine business of ministry and movement for many days after. Not until Lazarus has laid FOUR long days in the grave does Jesus amble toward Bethany where he's met on the way by the grieving Martha.
Immediate words of indignation followed by resignation emerge from a grief-stricken soul.
Martha asserts herself without fear of reprisal and Jesus in response utters the famous and oft rehearsed words:
"I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
John 11:25-26
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Jesus words provoke a positive and almost miraculous response from Martha who, on the heels of this exchange, runs and returns with the grieving Mary.
And I think it strange to consider here, how one sister was being empowered by Jesus while the other was being devoured by grief.
A simultaneous activity of two personalities on display.
It's all so human and real:
-The misconception of Christ's absence and His activity.
-The untimely presence of His presence. It was too late!
-The suggestion of separation, abandonment, and aloneness with Christ playing out in the greatest hour of need.
Hmmm ...
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But of course the story must be read by each of us with certain details highlighted for certain reasons in each of us.
But all of us together read the story of Lazarus with cheerful optimism knowing how it all turns out:
"And when He thus had spoken he cried with a loud voice, 
'Lazarus come forth!'
And he that was dead came forth bound hand and foot with graveclothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them,
'Loose him and let him go.'"
John 11:43-44
What a great and dramatic way to end the story!
Three cheers to Jesus and His mysterious and mighty work in displaying the resurrected power and truth of life.
Wow and Amen ...
The Easter adventure walking itself early out;
an extraordinary sermon ending and come to life all at once.
Viewership encouraged.
But now it's time to think ...
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THREE STUDY EMPOWERMENTS
1) Recreate the story of Lazarus and carefully reconstruct the events as they transpired in John 11. Do this three times and record three insights.
2) What kind of relationship do you have with Jesus?
Is it rare, intimate, and expectant or dull, lifeless, and mechanical?
Which of the characters in this story most identifies you?
Why?
3) Are you presently feeling empowered by Christ or devoured by grief?
How are you interpretting His actions and activity in your life?
This is a very important question with an answer that might involve open conversation with another.
How does this story anchor, encourage, and stretch you?
Christ would have you know that you are loved, my friend, with an everlasting love.
You may question many things in your present situation;
but His love remains constant and unconditional.
Cling to the One who loves you,
knows you,
and will never leave you.
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"Jesus wept."
John 11:35