In desperation she stood beneath the small window she had tightly shuttered against the splish-splashing of the pouring rain. For days the clouds hovered low, and thunder’s rumbling added its own accompaniment to the perpetual cadence of the falling rain. Nature began too soon to play its dirge as the smell of death lingered in the dismal room. How she longed to fling wide the shutters and see the sun send its rays flooding into the area like the mighty Jordan River at flood stage.
If only the sun could touch his failing body… the thought played over and over in her mind.
If only the Son would come touch his fevered brow….Hadn’t the message been sent to Jesus? Why didn’t he come? Had the message not been delivered? Perhaps He didn’t care as much as she thought. The “only ifs” raced through her mind, fear standing ready to steal her faith.
For hours she walked from the bed to the window, in hope, listening intently for His footsteps through the sloshing water that was gathering on the path to her door, certain that he would come.
Her heart grew heavier, as her brother’s breathing grew more labored with every breath. Lazarus became more pale, his skin translucent. Yet with unshaken faith, Mary confidently listened for the Master’s appearing.
Her heart pounded within her and her pulse became more rapid as she watched her brother struggle for breath. Her soul diligently pleaded with the One who seemed not to hear, trusting that life would continue until the Master came. Breathe in – Pause. Breathe out – Pause. Breathe….inhale. Please inhale. Lazarus, please, please inhale. “Lazarus, please keep trying. I’m sure he is almost here,” Mary’s strained voice filled the hollow room.
Then she heard it. Resounding in her head more loudly than the noise of the pounding rain or the rolling thunder. Silence. The storm had ceased. Life had ended. Death had visited. Lazarus had stopped breathing. No more sounds of2 life were coming from his bed. Disappointment and grief stole her breath; her shoulders slumped, shaking uncontrollably as the weeping began.
The rain had ended. Visitors had come to be with the sisters in their grief. Martha glanced through the door at Mary still sitting by the bed grieving for Lazarus. She knew that her sister was dealing with more than grief at the death of Lazarus; she was dealing with feelings of having been betrayed by the One who could have made a difference. Mary felt betrayed.
Lazarus had already been dead four days. But yet Martha believed – she knew that He would come. She didn’t know or understand for what purpose his visit would be, but she knew He was coming.
Then it happened! Through the open door she caught a glimpse of the familiar form in the distance. She hastened to Mary. “He is coming. I see Him in the distance.” Mary turned her sad eyes to her sister as if to say, “What good is that now?” and continued her weeping.
Martha’s heart sank and her stomach churned at Mary’s response to her good news. But she wasn’t surprised. Mary had given up hope when Lazarus drew his last breath. Straightening her form, Martha stood tall and headed down the path out of the village. The familiar form of Jesus came into view as they each neared the place where the body of Lazarus lay. As her heart rapidly pounded within her, Martha quickened her steps toward Jesus and fell at His feet. Then looking up, her eyes saw the compassion expressed on His face. “Oh, Lord!” Her voice quivering. “If you had been here, Lazarus would not have died.” Jesus looked steadily and calmly at her.
Trembling, Martha continued. “But I know that even now, God will give you whatever you ask.”
Excitedly Martha ran to Mary. “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” Mary was waiting. She ran to Jesus, as had her sister, and falling before Him cried, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died.” The wailing of Mary and those who had gathered at the tomb aroused a strong emotional reaction in the Savior. Jesus wept.
Then Jesus called Lazarus and he came out of the grave. She couldn’t believe it!! Her brother coming out of the open tomb. The emotion that overwhelmed her was so difficult to explain. It was tremendous joy, a joy greater than she had ever experienced. And yet, it was different; something inexpressible. Then Mary remembered the words of Jesus, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
Since the day Lazarus walked out of the tomb, Mary’s love for the Lord had grown so great that she would give all she had for Him. She had heard Jesus talk with the disciples how he would be betrayed, insulted, and abused. He would be killed. Every time those words replayed in her mind; she knew what she had to do. There was a dinner to be held in his honor; the perfect opportunity to implement her plan.
The men were reclining at the table. Martha, as was her nature, was busy serving. When the time was right and the table had been cleared, Mary entered the room; carrying only an alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. She deliberately stopped in front of the Master and cracked the seal of the jar, the fragrance filling the room. In humbleness she fell at His feet, anointing them with the expensive oil. Released from its tie, her hair cascaded down, wiping His feet with her hair.
Mary’s deed was done. Her Lord would have to die. She didn’t understand it, just as she didn’t understand the delay in the answer to her prayer for the healing of Lazarus. But in trust, she bowed before Him and worshiped.