Enneagram, StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, DISC, or any other personality or motivational assessment will tell you we’re are all so very different. Not only are we different within, we have experiences that have shaped us, skills we have developed, and years of life that have taught us. Some of us are question askers, others of us are storytellers. Some of us dig for detail while others want the big picture of where we are going. Our uniqueness does not stop with our relationship with God. We bring it with us to Jesus as well.
Mary and Martha were different sisters—same family, very different women. And Jesus welcomed their uniqueness as they processed the death of their brother, their disappointment with Jesus, and what was to come.
They exclaimed the same truth to Jesus (John 11:21, 32) yet followed it with different actions. Martha shared words, questions, and dialogue. Mary brought her tears and fell down before Jesus. Jesus responded to these sisters exactly where they were.
jesus met them
Martha came with her words, thoughts, and questions. Jesus dialogued with Martha about theology, faith, and resurrection. Their interaction led Martha to make a statement of faith, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:27). Before the resurrection of Lazarus, Martha again had an opportunity to affirm her faith (John 11:39–40).
Mary came full-body, with tears. Her release of grief and confusion was both emotional and physical. Jesus met her with his own tears… Jesus met her with his own tears as well as his anger at death itself (John 11:35, 38). The release of his own tears, his anger, and his emotions led the surrounding community to exclaim, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36).
staying with jesus
Throughout the story you can’t help but wonder, why didn’t Jesus just heal Lazarus? Why did he wait for both the women to express their disappointment? Why did he linger?
He previously indicated that this all was bigger than what was happening in the present. He talked about resurrection and life and belief and glory, but why not go ahead and show Martha his power right away, or dry Mary’s tears right away (John 11:4, 15, 42)? Why did he let them grieve? Why did he himself grieve?
Truly, the ways of God are a mystery, and this mystery does not always bring us comfort. Yet, the invitation we see in this story is that God is a God who enters our story and stays there. God is a God who is willing to hear our questions, to wrestle with us, to patiently care for us. God is a God who is willing to feel the depth of emotion, anger at death, and sadness at loss. He is a God who is with us. And this God invites us to stay with him in our disappointments, our questions, our tears, and whatever we uniquely bring.