Jesus Speaks to Us Where We Are At
by Mike Herrnstein
So when Martha heard Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will grant You.” Jesus replied, “Your brother will come back to life again.” Martha said, “I know that he will come back to life again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe You are the Christ, the Son of God who comes into the world.”
Now when Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the people who had come with her weeping, He was intensely moved in spirit and greatly distressed. He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They replied, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. –John 11:20-27, 32-35
We all seem to tend toward life of the mind or life in the heart. Certainly there is crossover but we all gravitate to our comfort zone. From what we read in the Bible it seems that Martha tended toward the mind while Mary, the heart. Both ask Jesus the same question: why didn’t He arrive sooner when word went out that their brothers were dying? Jesus responds differently to each woman, meeting them where they were at. He appeals to Martha’s knowledge and cries with Mary.
God speaks to us in many ways. But sometimes we can’t hear it. It is in those times when we need to appeal to His character. That we can find in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
One of the most touching things I’ve read revealing God’s character can be found in CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan is the God character in these books, while Digory is a young boy whose mother is deathly ill:
”But please, please—won’t you—can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up until then he had been looking at the Lion’s great front feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his mother then he was himself.
“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.” (from The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis)
Lewis lost his own mother at the age of 9 but it wasn’t until he was 32 before he looked up at the eyes of God and committed himself to Christ. Prior to that he was a highly-acclaimed academic who was also an atheist.
Which leads me to my dear Aunt Janet. She enjoys a pretty good life of the mind. And I’ve heard her ask some pretty hard questions about the nature of God’s character. But I truly believe that Jesus speaks to her heart. And her response has been extraordinary. She is one of the most loving, self-giving people I have ever known. She truly loves others, especially children and animals. Her actions have left lifetimes of stories witnessing God’s grace on this earth.
Aunt Janet is now suffering advanced stage 4 pancreatic cancer and is currently in hospice care. She is taking it with the dignity that I would expect. And I will not stop praying for a miracle until I have to. There may come a time when I have to completely entrust her into God’s care. And when she looks into those big bright eyes, she will recognize the face that has been in her heart for so many years.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift that is Aunt Janet; another earthly mother you have blessed me with. And keep us all mindful of the words from your character Aslan: “Grief is great…let us be good to one another.” Amen.