"Could He not?"
Join me for a walk through John chapter 11, won't you? It's an exciting chapter; featuring what is perhaps Jesus' most famous miracle ~ the raising of Lazarus. I've compared reading the gospels to watching a movie, and this chapter would make for a very exciting movie.
Part of that is the people involved here. There's Lazarus, of course, but he's really got a very small part, in a funny kind of way.
And then there's Mary and Martha. If you know your Bible, you probably know these two sisters pretty well, and that makes them easy to "see" in your mind.
And then, of course, there's Jesus, our Star. But the other "player," that I don't want to forget, is "The Jews". Also known as "the people," "the crowd," or "the multitudes".
The raising of Lazarus is an unprecedented miracle for the people. But they knew well of the signs and wonders that Jesus had been doing to this point. From the miracle at the wedding in Cana, people had started to pay attention to the works of this Man. They'd seen Him expel demons, and cure leprosy and blindness, and heal paralytics and birth defects. And they'd even seen Him raise a man who had just died.
But Jesus handled this illness differently. He did not come when Mary and Martha sent for Him. He didn't heal Lazarus from afar. He stayed where He was for two more days, and did "nothing".
And so, when He arrived in the town where His dear friends lived, He was "too late". Lazarus had died, and been in the tomb for four days.
Mary and Martha each spoke to Jesus separately, but each said the same thing: "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." I don't think it was accusatory, but it takes on a different light when we look at the crowd's response.
Their response is in verse 37 ~ "Some of them said, 'Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?"
There seems to be some question about Jesus' ability. As if the people were saying, "We really thought He could do this; could He not? Were we wrong in estimating His abilities?" And in a way, Mary and Martha sound the same to me, as if they are saying, "You would have done something if you had been here... you would have done something if you could."
It's the difference between "Can He?" and "Will He?"
Mary, Martha, and the crowd had not been privy to Jesus' words to the disciples, recorded in verse 14-15: "Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe."
We all know how frustrating it is to walk through difficulties, and wonder why they don't end. And I'm sure there are those who might even feel their situation is out of control or unfix-able.
Nothing is impossible for God. If things don't happen the way we wish they could, it's not that He can't. We have to trust that if He won't, it's for a reason. It's so that we will trust, that we will believe, and that He will be glorified.
~ "for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it" ~