John 11: 38-40
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
After being so struck with the first sentence in the passage, I continued to read unsure of what I would learn next. I was still digesting the significance that Jesus was deeply moved on the behalf of people in general, but also that He would be deeply moved on my behalf. Sometimes, I admit, it is easy for me to forget that God has emotions. That He could feel that deeply. And so, this first verse made a lasting impression on me. It was one of those moments where something clicked at a much deeper level.
As I continued to read, still partially distracted by what had just happened, the next few sentences struck me as odd. As I read and attempted to listen to what God had for me, I felt like a few things became clear.
First, Martha desperately needed and wanted Jesus to intervene in her life. She needed a miracle, and she needed something that only Jesus could do and provide. But the stone was literally standing in the way between Jesus and the miracle she needed. Jesus could have removed the stone Himself. We know that He is more than capable of that. But instead, He asked someone else to remove the stone. Why would He do that? Now without getting into some huge theological debate, I would argue that while God is capable of doing things without us, He chooses to work with us to accomplish what He wants. And so, it is our choice to cooperate or not. Just like Martha had to cooperate to remove the stone, we also must cooperate to move the stone away in our own lives.
I would bet that each one of us has something that we’re holding onto. Something that we need God to intervene in, something we need Him to touch or to change. And in these situations, I would also bet that there is something standing in the way. An obstacle that needs to be removed. God has the power to remove whatever obstacles are there on His own. But I think He asks for our cooperation in the process.
I found it interesting that Martha’s response was that she shouldn’t roll away the stone because of the smell. I can totally relate. I can’t tell you how many times I justify having that obstacle because I don’t want to offend some one, or God Himself. I’m afraid that whatever is behind the stone will be too much for someone, including God, to handle. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid of how I might look. And so I keep the stone protecting my hurt, pain, frustration and desperation.
Or at least I want to. But I love the last verse out of these few. “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” I have my fears. I have my justifications. And my stone can bring me some comfort because as long as it’s there, I won’t hope and then be more disappointed. But. What an incredible word. It challenges me to come out of my comfort zone and hope. Because how can Jesus touch the dead areas of my life if I don’t give Him access? If I don’t cooperate in the process? But if I believe, and if I take the step of faith to roll away the stone, and give God access to every piece of my life, then I can see His glory.
I don’t know where you’re at. I don’t know what you’re going through. Life is messy. Life is hard. BUT... But Jesus is deeply moved for you. Jesus is deeply moved and wants to touch what is dead, and smelly, and hurting. Jesus wants you to roll away the stone and give Him access to whatever is behind it. It probably won’t turn out like you plan. BUT if you believe, you will see the glory of God. What do you have to lose?