Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. John 11:5
Well, this is my second attempt at journaling with You this morning, Lord. I forgot to save every now and then and the program glitched and shut down and I lost everything. Well, I lost what I had written already but I haven’t stopped thinking about what we’ve been working on. I’m still thinking about Your love. And I’m thinking about Martha’s love, and Peter’s love, and my love.
And I’m thinking how we think we love more than we really love, at least, until You show us. And it seems that it takes some really tough crises in our lives to show us both our own false impression of ourselves and even our wrong impressions of You. Isn’t that interesting? I’m talking about the same stuff I just wrote here. I’ve been meditating on this since about 5:30 this morning and now its 7:45 and it’s all disappeared. But I feel that now is the time to finish. And maybe that small crisis of a glitch is Your way of refining things. Because here we come from a different start.
So, Martha and Mary have sent a message to You to come because their brother Lazarus is sick. “Lord, the one You love dearly is sick.” Now the word used here for love is “phileo” which expresses brotherly love and affection. We’ll call it human love. This is how we as humans usually express our love for one another. I’ll also call it 60% love (I got that idea from preceptaustin-Boyce). But John lets us know how You loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. You loved them with “agapao” love. This is how God loves. This is how You express Your love for us. I call this 100% love.
Right here, we start off with a false impression of You. Martha and Mary are only expecting 60% love. But a 100% love God doesn’t express Himself in less than 100% love. And You were designing this whole crisis just so You could be glorified. You wanted to offer Martha and Mary and Lazarus and the other followers an opportunity to ditch their false impressions. And You took Your time doing it. You let more than four days pass. You let Lazarus die. Why? Because we need time to actually reach down into the deep, dark depths of our hearts and pull up those misconceptions and start playing with them. But until we reach down and drag them up, they aren’t where we can come to terms over them. So, You place us into situations where we have to confront them. And then You show up and stand against them. Which is when we have a choice to make. Will I choose You or retain my misconception?
It’s so easy to think we believe or we understand or we know when we really don’t. And it takes You to show us the truth because only You are the Truth. Let’s watch that unfold with Martha. “Jesus, Lord, if only You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. But I KNOW that even now, whatever You ask, God will do it.” See, I think there are already two misconceptions going on here. First, Martha thinks You, Jesus, need to be physically present to bring healing. Men and prophets need to be physically present. So that seems to put You on a prophet level, which is a man of God, but not God. I don’t think she really realized that You are God. And did she really believe that whatever You asked, even now, God will do it? Did she really KNOW that or did she just think she knew? There’s a difference. There’s a difference in our actions and our responses when we really know.
You respond, “Your brother will rise again.” “Amen, Lord, let’s go do it now!” Oh, sorry, that wasn’t her response. It was more of a quote Scripture back response. “I KNOW that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Mary, you may know that, but you’re not getting what Jesus is trying to tell you here. And, Lord, isn’t that my problem and our problem often too? We think we get it and we dont really understand what it means in our lives right now. You are our present Help and our future Help. But I think I need to be a better listener and realize I don’t know as much as I think I do. So I can’t fault Martha here.
You are so patient with us, Lord! You said to her, “Martha, I AM THE RESURRECTION, AND THE LIFE…Do you believe this?’ “Yes, Lord: I BELIEVE You are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” Here it is again. Mary said she believed. But she even repeated different words. Was she really listening in her sorrow? Did she really even hear Your words? But let’s look at her actions again. Nothing like dredging up these misconceptions and our own holiness, huh? Jesus, you put her to the test. “Take away the stone from the grave.” “Yes! You’re going to resurrect Him because You are the Resurrection and the Life!” Oh, sorry, that must be another story. Martha’s real response was, “Are You kidding? His body must stink by now. He’s been dead four days already!” Martha, Martha! Sharon! Sharon! (That’s me)
“Martha, didn’t I tell you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?” In other words, “Martha, you are not believing! Believe! For real. And watch and see the glory of God.” Jesus, You didn’t have to be there. You spoke all of creation into existence. And here You came just so You could teach Martha and me a lesson about misconceptions.
Oh, I mentioned Peter earlier. That’s because You took Peter through this same type of lesson that day on the beach after his denial and after Your resurrection. You wanted to get rid of his misconceptions of himself and of You. “Peter, do you love me with my love, 100% love? You know, do You love me more than everyone else here loves me?” “Lord, I thought I loved You with 100% love. And I thought I loved you more than everybody else loved You. But You saw what I did. I loved like everybody else. I only love you with my 60% love.” “O.K., now Peter, do you love me with 100% love, my love?” “Lord, you know all I have is my love, 60% love.” “Peter, do love me with all the love you have, with that 60% love. Give that to me and I’ll give You what You need to serve me and mine.” “Lord, You know You have my 60% love.”
It doesn’t seem fair, does it? I mean that You love us with this 100% God love and we have this faulty 60% stuff to give back to You. But this is how You are glorified. You do in us what is inhumanly possible. You take 60 percenters and make us into 100 percenters like You. You call forth Lazarus from the grave. You call forth our misconceptions and loose us from them. You unwrap misconception after misconception just like You have the burial cloths removed from Lazarus so he can be free. Free me from my misconceptions.
Lord, thank You for taking me the long way ’round this morning. I think this little tough situation just offered me the chance to put things in a better light. I knew You had a purpose. And I pray that You have been glorified in my response to this little tough situation. And Lord, I am so grateful that You put tough things, really tough things in my life, just so You can pull up the misconceptions in me so that You and I can handle them together. I may not like those tough situations but I love when You make Yourself known in a greater and more personal way to me. I love when You throw away my misconceptions and replace them with Living Truth. And Lord, continually give me eyes and a heart to see and know the truth, both about You and about me. Because not only can I have a problem of not seeing You for all You are, but I can sometimes see myself as more than I am.
I can’t stop with that. I have to say that Your 100%, well, more like infinite love, is so amazing. And I’m just like Peter without You. I can’t cut it unless You fill me with Your love. But, Lord, I give You all of me and all of the love I have. It’s Yours. Now, You make me able to do and be who You created me to be. My life and attitudes and witness and service are all in Your hands. Equip me in Your love and in You. Loose me and let me go, not just to be free, but to be overflowing with freedom in You to love and draw others to You.