A Lesson about Prayer
Although the account of the raising of Lazarus doesn’t mention the prayers of Mary and Martha, I believe that it portrays for us, in a powerful and tangible way, the advocacy of Christ in our behalf before the throne. Hebrews 4:15 describes Christ’s nature as our advocate: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). Nowhere in scripture is the fact that Jesus was touched by the feeling of our infirmities more aptly and beautifully illustrated than in John 11:35. He wept. The Son of God cried real tears upon seeing and sharing the deep sorrow of Mary and Martha. Why did Jesus weep? It’s very unlikely that Jesus was grieving himself over the death of this friend, for He knew he was going to raise Lazarus. I believe he cried because he felt Mary’s and Martha’s pain. He carried their pain before the very throne of God. We know this because He next thanked His Father for having already heard His plea on behalf of this faithful family.
Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. John 11:40-42
He is touched with my grief today. He is willing to bear my sorrows before the throne. He, most importantly, is willing to bear my sins as my advocate with the Father (I John 1:1).
Again, amazing things occur in the presence of faith. I don’t always have to know exactly how God is going to take my particular set of circumstances and through them work a plan that will ultimately benefit me as His child. [After all, Martha was very uncertain about the rolling away of the stone (vs.39).] I just need to have faith that He will. When I love and obey Him and petition Him through the One who feels my pain, he will weave the circumstances of my life, good and bad, into a scheme that will ultimately bless and benefit me. I believe this is the essence of Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
The impact of His advocacy that day on the hearts of men is recorded in verses 45 and 46: “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.”
It’s still that way. We live for Him. We pray to him. He works providentially in our lives. We show His truth to those around us. Those with honest and tender hearts believe in the inescapable truths of His word, while others search for ways to discredit the power of God. They have, at their disposals, divine advocacy waiting and willing to plead their cause before the God of justice, before Whom they’ve sinned. But they reject the advocacy, refuse the counsel and choose to go their own ways (vs.46), rejecting the inescapable evidence of His might. Modern evolutionists, New Age religionists, and Jews are among those who defy the evidence.