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Two Sad Sisters

Key References: John 11:17-37; The Desire of Ages, chap. 58, pp. 528-533; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 9, pp. 22-27; Our Beliefs nos. 9, 26, 11

Power Text

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ” (John 11:25, 26).

Power Point

God’s love holds us tight in times of grief.

Have you ever put your faith in a friend and felt sure that that person would come through for you? How did you feel when the person let you down? Would you trust that person again? Mary and Martha knew their friend so well that they trusted His love—even when He seemed to let them down. Imagine the scene when Jesus finally arrived.

The day is bright and alive with birdsong as the disciples and Jesus travel to Bethany. But a quiet sadness surrounds the group like a cloud blocking the sun.

“We are almost there,” Peter whispers, pointing to the nearby houses of the town. Some folk wave excitedly from a rooftop. A little boy runs across a newly plowed field.

“You missed the funeral,” he calls. “It was four days ago.” The disciples groan. But Jesus seems not to notice.

“Why do I dread seeing Mary and Martha?” James mutters.

“Yeah, coming late like this makes me uncomfortable,” John replies.

“Wait up, guys,” Andrew calls. Peter and his fellow disciples turn to see Jesus resting on a rock beside the road.

Peter’s mind flashes back to the deathbed of Jairus’s daughter. “Remember how much Jesus dislikes the hype and fuss the mourners make?” Peter whispers.

James nods. “Being so close to Jerusalem, all their friends and relatives will have come. Some of the priests and Pharisees must have been present as well. No wonder Jesus is not going to the house.

“It’s not just that,” John protests. “He’s taking Lazarus’ death harder than we thought.”

Scanning the road ahead, John notices a familiar figure approaching. “Martha!” he exclaims, hurrying to extend a comforting arm.

The disciples watch anxiously as Martha approaches Jesus. Lovingly Jesus reaches out to her.

“Lord,” Martha whispers, tears running from her eyes, “if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus looks at her with infinite compassion. Then He speaks with assurance, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha nods. “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Once again Jesus doesn’t fail to speak words of comfort and hope to the grieving sister. He leans forward and with a calm voice He affirms, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” comes Martha’s reply without hesitation. She gazes into Jesus’ compassionate eyes and continues, “I believe that You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Comforted, she quietly withdraws and hurries back to the village, only to return a few minutes later with Mary and a trail of panting, red-eyed mourners.

The sisters’ brave smiles crumple. Kneeling at Jesus’ feet, Mary sobs a statement of her continuing love and faith in Jesus. “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (See John 11:21-32).

Tears of sadness and relief spill down Jesus’ cheeks. Sadness because He has longed for more than four days to comfort the sisters. Relief because grace has kept the sisters’ faith in Him strong. And just because He is as fully a man as He is God, Jesus weeps. In times of grief we, like the two sisters, need to hold fast our faith in God’s love.