…they followed her, supposing she was going
to the tomb to mourn there.”
John 11:31 (NIV)
We were on holiday last week and took time to visit friends near North Bay and to visit my brother’s grave at Chetwynd near Burkes Falls.
I recall the time I lived on a farm across the road from the cemetery and my brother and I would investigate the place and read the names of what seemed to be many Rumfords buried there. You see there were babies, teens, and old people with our family name who rest in that place.
My reflections at the tombstone of my brother and his wife were both sorrowful and comforting. I recalled the times we attended the little church across the road from the graveyard. I looked at what used to be a field in front of our old farmhouse. Now it was overgrown with many trees 30 or more feet high. We had many happy times there but now things were different as I could never again speak with my brother in this life.
Yet, there was a quiet peace in my heart as I thought about the fact that I would see my brother and his wife again. They had loved Jesus and were now enjoying useful and productive lives in heaven. This thought made me thankful for the Gospel message I preach each week. There is great comfort in the context of sorrow if we know Jesus.
The person referred to in our verse today was a lady by the name of Martha. She, her sister Mary, and their brother Lazarus lived in a small suburb of Jerusalem called Bethany. The name “Bethany” may come from a word meaning “house of the poor”. The house of these three people, however, was filled with love for Jesus.
A message had come to Jesus that Lazarus was ill. However, Jesus did not arrive in Bethany until 4 days after Lazarus died. When Martha heard that Jesus was near she immediately rose and went out to meet Him. She certainly did the right thing. Her friends who came to comfort her in her loss assumed she was going to the tomb to mourn, but she did one better. She went to see the One who called Himself “the Resurrection and the Life”.
Charles Wesley was one of the most prolific hymnwriters in the long history of the church. A verse of one of his hymns expresses the view of Martha in her crisis and should be our encouragement as well. The verse goes as follows:
Other refuge have I none, Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head With the shadow of Thy wing.
I encourage you to go straight to Jesus with your issues today as Martha did. The day Martha came to Jesus He raised her brother from the dead. Your problem may not be solved the same day you bring it to Jesus, however you will discover that He will make the burden light and bring peace to you that the world cannot give. Jesus is the One to go to when troubled and He promises to give you all the help needed to go on in spite of the trial you face.