There is great comfort and instruction for us in taking notice of Mary, the sister of Martha, whose habit it was to be at the feet of Jesus. This Scripture, which we have read, is not the first occasion on which she is in the presence of Jesus. She is seen in Luke 10 sitting at the feet of Jesus, hearing His word; and this, no doubt, accounts for her attitude in John 11. He had there made known to her His thoughts, and here she seems to have the intelligence of what was becoming to the occasion. It is of great divine import for each one of us to be so near to the Lord as to know His mind and the secrets of His heart. Sitting at Jesus’ feet, and hearing His word, is the good part which shall not be taken from us; it is open for all, but only known and enjoyed by those who desire and seek it.
Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, was sick, and the sisters, knowing the love of the Lord, sent to Him saying, "Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick." Knowing the issue of this sorrow for the family He loved, the Lord can say, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." How blessed it is to be loved by One who knows the end from the beginning; what comfort to the heart to realize that all our sorrows and distresses are known to Him, and that He seeks our greatest good in them. Whoever could have thought that the glory of God and the glory of the Son of God were wrapped up in the sickness of a human being? But such it is! Oh that we realized that God’s glory is bound up with all the sorrows through which we are called to pass here.
After remaining two days where He was, the Lord took His steps towards the home of the sorrowing sisters; telling the disciples that Lazarus was asleep, but that He went to awake him out of sleep. At first, the disciples thought He spoke of natural sleep, and on learning that Lazarus had died, Thomas said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him." Poor Thomas had no more idea than Martha of the greatness of the Person of "The Resurrection and the Life." Martha, on hearing of Jesus’ coming, went to meet Him, but Mary sat still in the house. Telling Jesus that if He had been with them, her brother would not have died, Martha speaks a blessed word, "But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." Alas! that beautiful word was really beyond Martha’s faith, as is seen, when Jesus tests her. She had faith in the resurrection in the last day; yea, she believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world; but it could not rise to accept Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life.
Calling Mary her sister, Martha says, "The Master is come, and calleth for thee." There is no mention of Jesus having called for Mary. Is it that Martha judged that the words spoken by the Lord were for Mary, who, having formerly sat at His feet, could enter into their meaning? Arising quickly, at the bidding of Jesus, Mary comes to where He was, and seeing Him, "She fell down at his feet." The place where she had learned His word, was the place to which she brought the deep sorrow of her heart; this is where she found the solace and comfort her heart yearned for. She had nothing else to say than Martha had said on first seeing Jesus, but she weeps at the feet of Jesus. Her tears, and those of the Jews with her, cause the Son of God to groan, and trouble Him in spirit. How blessed to know that the Son of God can enter into the grief of the human heart, plumb the depths of its sorrows, and bring there the solace and comfort of His own love. If the failure and sin of man have brought grief and sorrow into the world, the Son of God has come to learn what grief and sorrow are that His love for His own might find expression in a ministry of sympathy and succor.
On His way to the tomb "Jesus wept." This powerful expression of the feelings of the heart of God’s dear Son speaks more eloquently than words the reality of His Man-hood, the tenderness of His feelings for His loved ones, and grief at the state in which poor man was on account of sin. Mary would never forget those precious tears, as Jesus walked with her towards the place where His glory and power were manifested. And can any true child of God, who has known the presence and companionship of Jesus in days of sorrow and bereavement, forget the sweetness of the sense of His company or the reality of His comfort and grace? Is it not worthwhile to pass through the sorrow to have Him with us? Like Mary, we can count upon His sympathy and presence, until we reach the scene where His voice of power will be heard in calling His loved ones from the grave.
Flowing out of this sorrowful experience Mary answers to the mind of the Lord, in true affection, in the next chapter. The Lord had ministered to her in teaching her His word, in showing His love and sympathy, and in manifesting His power; now Mary ministers to Him as she anoints His feet with costly ointment, and wipes His feet with her hair. The overflow of a heart that delights in Him, is precious to Him, gratifying His great heart of love. This surely is worship! What a deep joy to learn at Jesus’ feet, to bring our grief and tears to Jesus’ feet, and to worship at Jesus’ feet! May we desire to minister to Jesus, worshiping Him; but, like Mary, this will only come as we learn in His presence, from His own word, and know in all the circumstances of life the companionship of Jesus.
Results of Christ’s Resurrection
Having entered into death, the Son of God came out as the victor, leading “captivity captive” and ascending “up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:8-10);Colossians 2:15). Through death, the risen Christ annulled “him that had the power of death” (Hebrews 2:14), and “abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). The risen Son of Man has said, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18).
All the blessing brought to the saints of God depends upon the death and resurrection of Christ, whether it be justification or salvation (Rom. 4:25; Rom. 10:9), or all that we enjoy “in Christ” in the heavenly places. Although these blessings were in the counsel of God for us, they have been secured to us through Christ entering into death and rising again. The apostle Peter also brings this before us where he writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).