Impossible Need, Unbelievable Answer
Our God delights in doing the unbelievable. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Nothing is impossible with Him. Personally, I love the word the OT uses to describe the mighty, miracle-working power of our God. Wonders… It’s a word that not only describes the act itself but also perfectly expresses the people’s reaction. Remember that time when God parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14)? Wonder. Israel stood there and watched it happen right before their very eyes. They walked through the middle of this enormous body of water on dry ground. Then, as they stood there on the far distant shore they watched again as the waters came crashing down to once and for all end the Egyptian threat. Words could not explain all that they felt in that moment. Awestruck. Dumbfounded. Amazed. Speechless. They have never seen anything like it. They did not understand it. They could not explain it. But they were powerless to deny it. They stood there scratching their heads in wide-eyed wonder. It really is the perfect word.
The story of Lazarus’ resurrection in John 11 certainly falls into that same category. Let’s be honest. I find it hard to imagine that bodily resurrection was anywhere on Martha and Mary’s radar screen of possible outcomes. Just look at the text. Their initial expectation had been one of healing. Lazarus was sick and they had sent word to Jesus asking for His help. But according to the divine plan, Jesus had delayed and allowed Lazarus to die. The text makes it clear that the two sisters were heart-broken, filled with sorrow and grief. Why else would we be told that the Jews had gathered together to “console” them? These women were experiencing the same exact hurts and pain that any one of us would have felt in that moment. In their minds Lazarus was dead. He was not coming back. And the worst part? The One who claimed to love them, the One who could have healed their brother seemingly ignored their cry for help.
I have always kind of thought that their emotions might help explain their different reactions to the news of Jesus’ arrival. Mary decided to stay at the house. In her mind there really was no point in pressing the matter. Lazarus was dead. Any hopes of healing that she had once entertained were now impossibilities. But Martha on the other hand was mad. She headed out to the graveyard because she was going to give Jesus a piece of her mind. Look at her words. In my mind I can hear the anger, the bitter sarcasm. “…if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” In Martha’s mind Jesus had fumbled the ball. He had blown His one opportunity. For her it was simply too late now. Lazarus was dead. There was nothing that anyone could do to change that reality. Not even Jesus’ promise could change her mind. Jesus tells her, “Your brother will rise again.” But in her mind His promise could not possibly have a present application. The very thought of such a thing was insane. Jesus had to be talking about some future event. So, rather than standing there in faith, she turned around and ran back home.
But honestly, I don’t know that I can fault Martha for her reaction. If I had been in her shoes, I wouldn’t have acted any differently. It’s hard to believe God for the impossible. Most of you reading this today find yourself facing some impossible needs in your life right now. The situation is far beyond your strength, wisdom and ability. If anything is ever going to change, if anything is ever going to get any better it is going to have to be God. You have prayed. You have read your Bible. You have gone to church. You have taken it one day at a time. But the need has been a part of your life for so long now that a “wonder” just seems like an ever-illusive dream. You still hope for the best. But in your heart you aren’t really expecting much. Especially anything along the lines of the miraculous.
If that is you, I want to encourage you to hold on just a little longer. In the weeks ahead we are going to take a long look at John 11. But for now I want to focus our attention on this singular thought. Our God specializes in the impossible. He delights in leaving His people speechless. He is still a wonder-working God. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Nothing is impossible with Him. Lazarus was dead. But with a word Jesus restored him to life. With a word Jesus healed the sisters’ broken hearts. No matter your need it is not beyond God’s ability. Furthermore, it’s never too late with Jesus. You may have buried your hope a long time ago. But it matters not to God. He can give new life to your old dreams. Yes, your current need is impossible from a merely human standpoint. But don’t give up. Don’t give in to despair. God sees your need. God hears your cries. And God cares. Take heart. Your impossible need is about to give way to His unbelievable answer.