This section is bonus: We were reading John 11 in our life2life group last night which is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. There are several noteworthy details in that story. My favorite two are as follows. The old King James Bible has Martha warning Jesus not to open the tomb. She says, "Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days." The word stinketh is hilarious! I also think it's amusing how Lazarus exits the tomb. He's been wrapped in burial cloth and when he exits the tomb he needs help. I've always pictured him hopping out, mumbling unintelligible words. Flailing about. The crowd is so overwhelmed by what they are seeing that no one thinks to help the poor guy. He's just come back from the dead after all! So Jesus says, "Unwrap him and let him go!” This is also the passage that records that famous line, "Jesus wept." It's also the place where Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life." John 11 is an amazing story, but none of these things are what hit me last night.
As I was reading with my group I realized that two people who are normally remembered for a lack of faith...demonstrate faith! Martha was the woman obsessed with her domestic duties on one occasion. She was so infuriated by her sister that she breaks into Jesus' study and gets a rebukes from the man himself. We associate Martha with missing the point. But in John 11 Martha is the one who says, "I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” Faith!
Similarly, we associate Thomas with doubts. He wanted to see the resurrected Christ before he'd believe it for himself. "Don't be a doubting Thomas," people say. But, when they were heading back to the place where Jesus had almost been killed Thomas said, "Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus." Thomas was ready that day to follow Jesus wherever it led. Even to death. It goes to show that no one is always faithful and no one is always faithless. There are days when we are ready to die for Jesus and days when we're wrestling with what to believe. There are ups and downs in the faith. They are normal. They hit us all at times. So don't be frustrated when you're struggling with a doubt or get sidetracked. And don't be cocky when you're on the mountain top of your faith journey. Take the good with the bad and keep moving forward. And try not to stinketh!
Read the Bible in One Year Plan: 1 Chronicles 21-24