It's a tiny word yet it can be powerful.
We use it to tell of regret, to place blame, to wish, to hope, to make excuses. It's tiny but mighty.
I was reading my devotional the other night (My Utmost for His Highest, Thanks, Daddy) and it was using a verse in John 11. I try to read the whole chapter of whatever verse the devotional uses so I can get good context and learn an extra lesson or two. John 11 is about Lazarus. You know, the guy that was 4 days stinking dead that Jesus raised? Yeah, that Lazarus. It's a good story. If you have time, go read John 11. The lord laid it on my heart to break that chapter down for myself and then share it with y'all. So if you get anything out of this post be sure and thank the Lord for it because I wouldn't have written it without His pushing.
The Jews had tried to stone Jesus so he skipped town with his disciple buddies. They were going to lay low because the time had not yet come for Jesus to die. But Jesus got word that Lazarus of Bethany, brother to Mary and Martha, was sick. This family was close to Jesus' heart. One of my favorite stories in Luke is where Jesus is visiting Mary and Martha and He's teaching at their house and Martha is running around being a hostess while Mary's just sitting at Jesus' feet listening. Martha gets her panties in a twist and tells Jesus about how Mary should be helping her do hostessing stuff and Jesus tells Martha to chill her grill. Its in Luke 10, it amuses me.
Anyhow, so Jesus gets word that Lazarus is sickly so Jesus tells his BFFs, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Translated: I'm gonna use this to glorify God.
He loved this family so much that in a couple of days he told His disciples to load up because they were going back to Judea again. They were like, wait? What? Those people just tried to kill you and you want to waltz back in there because of a sick friend?
Lazarus had passed and Jesus knew it, so He said, "Lazarus sleeps." The disciples were like, well good, if he's sleeping then he'll wake up and get better.
Sometimes we are so dense to what God is telling us that I bet he wants to knock us upside the head with something. Sometimes He does, with a lesson about trusting in Him. He's got this, our help isn't needed.
Jesus said, Y'all....he is dead. And I'm glad for your sake that I wasn't there so that I can show you AGAIN that I am the Son of God, so load up. And then Thomas...oh Thomas...he's like, Y'all heard Jesus, let's go with Him so we can die too. I don't know if he was rolling his eyes or feeling brave when he said this, but either way, off they went.
By the time they got near Bethany Lazarus had been dead for four days. FOUR DAYS. He was stankin, y'all. Lots of Jews (who were after Jesus) had gathered around Mary and Martha to comfort them. When Martha got word that Jesus had arrived she snuck out of the house and left Mary there. I'm unsure if Mary was perturbed at Jesus because she felt like He'd let her down and she wasn't seeing Him, or if nobody had actually told her that He was there, but anyhow she was in the house when Martha went out to meet Him. You know what Martha said to Jesus? She said, "Lord, IF You had been here, my brother would not have died." OUCH. She said, Jesus, this is YOUR fault. Do you think she and Mary had been having this conversation for the days leading up to Jesus' arrival?
Have you ever seen something happen and said, "Well IF God had done what He was supposed to..."
So after Martha got onto Jesus for his absence, you know, excuse Him for not getting Himself stoned by the Jews too early and all that....He says, "Your brother will rise again." And she's all, Yeah, I know he will, in glory.... Once again, not what Jesus meant. He asks her if she believes that He is the resurrection and the life. And she said, Yes, I do believe that. Then she went to get Mary.
Mary ran out of the house, leaving all her comforters behind to meet Jesus. Do you know what Mary said to Him? You've said it before and seen it before. She said, "Lord, IF You had been here my brother would not have died."
Well...if that doesn't guarantee that the sisters were a little peeved at Jesus I don't know what does. They went and said the exact same thing to Him using that tiny, but powerful word. IF..... Stings a little sometimes, doesn't it? Especially when several people use it in the same sentence, all but guaranteeing that they've been talking behind your back about your failure.
After He saw Mary, Jesus asked, "Where have you laid him?" (v34) and they took Him to the tomb.
When Jesus first heard that Lazarus was sick, they told him, "Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick." Jesus held Lazarus close, like a brother, so while he was THE Son of God, He was also human. He limited His divinity to experience humanity and I would imagine that sometimes emotion took over. When Jesus got to the tomb we get a glimpse of the power of His emotion. Verse 35 says, "Jesus wept."
He wept for the loss He felt. He wept for the loss that Mary and Martha felt. He probably wept because He had everybody "IF-ing" Him, doubting him. He might have wept because His time was coming. He probably wept because, once again, He had to prove to those who witnessed His miracles that He was the Son of God. He wept.
Ever since having children, my body's go to response is to cry. Angry? Cry. Sad? Cry. Happy? Cry. Frustrated? Cry. And it makes me so stinking mad when I get angry and cry. Good grief I just cry more because I'm angry and I'm angry that I'm crying. It's ridiculous and uncontrollable, but it's just what I do.
Jesus tells them to take away the stone. Martha is like, Jesus, it is gonna stink up in there because he's been dead 4 days. And Jesus probably wanting to roll his eyes so far back in His head that He could see the person behind Him, says, didn't I tell you that IF you believed you would see the glory of God? And they took away the stone.
Jesus then proceeds to thank His Father (God) that He heard Him. We forget that part sometimes. We beg and plead, and ask God to grant us favor, and then He does and we just go on like we did it ourselves. Pat me on the back....(insert emoji eye roll here.)
Jesus says, "Lazarus, come forth." (v43)
"And he who died came out.....Jesus said to them, 'Loose him, and let him go.'"
Things happen in life and we blame God. We say, "God IF you were here, this wouldn't have happened." "IF You had done what I asked of You, things would be better." "Lord, IF...." But IF WE would shut up long enough and exercise the faith He's been building in us, we will witness His glory and favor.
The sisters said, "IF YOU HAD BEEN HERE OUR BROTHER WOULD NOT HAVE DIED."
God said, "IF YOU HAVE FAITH YOU WILL SEE."
And they saw their brother, wrapped up and stinking, walk out of his grave.
Can you imagine what we would see IF we would lay down that tiny word and use faith instead?