Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:1-45)
When someone dies we often have questions, questions which nag us and even obsess us. What if I had been there? What if I had visited more often? What if someone had done, or not done, this or that. They are questions which plague us with guilt when we pose them to ourselves. They are questions which can inflame us with anger if we direct them at others, even at God.
When we lose someone close, it not unusual to direct hard questions ands tough statements to God. Why were they taken from us? Why now?
And this is what Martha does. Her words seem harsh, almost angry. Her sister echoes the same. Jesus delayed going to visit his friend Lazarus for too days. And when he got there - or so it seemed - he was too late. And the crowd said “Ha - he healed the blind man … couldn’t he have prevented this?” And Jesus wept at the loss of his friend Lazarus, and the grief of his family.
Why were you not here? Martha seems to say.
If you had been here, this would not have happened, Mary also says.
But notice. These words of Martha are not only words of rebuke. They are also words of faith. If you had been here … he would not have died … And I know that even now …
In the midst of sadness there is also hope. And the hope that surrounds Lazarus is a hope not simply for his sisters, or neighbours or even for the amazement of the crowd. It is a hope still recalled thousands of year after the event. A hope not just for this one man and those who mourn him - but for all who believe in the One who is The Resurrection and the Life.