where were you??? | John 11:28-32
When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:28-32 | ESV
And with that said, she turned and left. She went back into the house and whispered to her grieving sister Mary, “The Rabbi is here and he wants to see you.” Mary didn’t slip out quietly, she created quite a stir by rushing out, quickly making her way to him. Jesus, meanwhile, hadn’t moved an inch towards the village. He stayed right where he was when Martha met him. Seeing her get up and rush out like she did, the local Jerusalem crowd who had been staying with her trying to console her thought for sure she was hurrying to the tomb in grief to weep more there.
Mary made a beeline to the very spot where Jesus still stood, and when she saw him, instead of giving him a piece of her mind, she collapsed at his feet, sobbing Martha’s same line, “Lord, if you were here, my brother wouldn’t be dead!” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
So there he stands.
On the edge of their village, the edge of their grief.
Waiting now for them.
What does this awkward meeting look like?
What do we say and do when we come face to face with the God who has so bitterly disappointed us?
Martha, mature, responsible, sensible, seems to put a good face on her disappointment.
“You’ve let me down, yes you have. But I still trust you. I still believe that God listens to you, that you are moving in his kingdom rhythms, that you are the One.” Faith is affirmed. She says the right things, but behind them lies the painful words of her bitter disappointment: “If you had been here my brother would not be dead.”
Translation: Where were you?
Yes I believe, but you sure haven’t made it easy for me. Where were you?
It’s clear she hasn’t come out expecting a fix or solution, looking for a mortified corpse to be reinvigorated with resurrection life. Oh that will happen, one day. But not now. She’s not stepped out of her circle of grief still looking for a miracle. She steps out because there is nowhere else for her to go.
And after her comes Mary.
Passionate, impetuous Mary who could get lost sitting at Jesus’ feet with the guys, forgetting all other responsibilities much to her older sister’s chagrin. Mary comes too.
Did she go to scream at him?
To give him a piece of her mind?
To give him a quick kick in the shins?
Whatever she might have had in mind, all she can manage is collapsing at his feet in grief.
No faint affirmation of faith, no claim to continued trust and affection.
Only tears and the heartbroken confession/complaint: “If you had been here my brother wouldn’t be dead.”
Where were you?
Oh the things we can learn from two heart-broken sisters…
If Jesus were quite literally to show up like this in the midst of your greatest loss, what do you think you would have said and done? Why?
Lord, thank you for waiting, for standing on the edge of my pain, inviting me to come when I am ready – to scream at you, to ask you why, and ultimately to collapse at your feet and simply weep. Thank you for not being the God of quick fixes – even though I long for those much of the time. Thank you for making space at your feet for me. Through Christ.