When Martha walked to see Jesus, there was no question that her brother was dead.
Four days in the grave in a culture where burial happened the same day as death, where the body was wrapped. This was not a simple “he’s asleep”, a mistaken diagnosis. Some of the other times that Jesus had resurrected dead people were in the “I suppose they could be asleep” category. The little girl had just died. The widow’s only son was being carried to the burial.
I’m not saying they weren’t dead. When Jesus said, “She’s asleep”, there was universal scoffing. Of course she was dead. But Lazarus wasn’t just dead, he was dead and buried.
So when Martha walked out to see Jesus, to see the person who she believed could have done something, there was no question that her brother was dead.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
On a Monday morning after a hard weekend, we start out a lot like Martha. “Lord,” we say, “If you would have been here, Jesus, my feelings wouldn’t have been hurt. My exercise program would have kept going. My baby wouldn’t have died. I wouldn’t have been fired. I would be happier. I would understand. Life would be fair.”
Unlike Martha, I often just stop after that first sentence. I’m not interested in pursuing the conversation. Martha that day pursed the conversation, even knowing her brother was dead and buried, knowing that Jesus could have done something to stop the illness before the death. Because her only hope.was the Jesus who hadn’t acted yet but still could.
Even though Jesus may not raise my Lazarus, I have no other hope.