Binding Broken Hearts

Introducing Jesus to Those Who Need Him Most

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The Power of the Word - Part 22

The water felt cool in her hand as it dripped from the cloth. She desperately wished that her brother’s forehead felt as cool. She felt the fear well up in her heart as the tears streamed down her face. She pressed the cloth to his forehead and prayed.

She heard the door slowly open and soon felt the presence of her sister by her side. Just her presence was a comfort.

“Martha,” the newcomer spoke quietly, “you look exhausted. When was the last time you slept? I can spend some time here with Lazarus. You need rest.”

Martha gently pulled the cloth from Lazarus’ forehead and placed it in the basin of water on the table before answering.

She turned toward her sister and said, “Thank you, Mary. I think I will go rest for a short while. Please come get me if his situation changes.”

“I will,” Mary replied as she squeezed Martha’s arm.

With that Martha left the sick room, and Mary took her place on the chair by the bed. As Martha started down the hall, she could hear the splash of water as Mary squeezed out the cloth. She ran to her bed chamber, quickly closed the door, and fell weeping onto her bed. Lazarus was the light of their home. He had been since the day he was born. Martha’s heart was breaking at the thought of losing their only brother. Exhaustion overtook her. Sleep was a welcome relief.

It felt like only moments later when Martha felt her arm being shaken. She awoke with a start. “Lazarus?” she asked.

“No change,” Mary responded. “But I have an idea. Let’s send a note to Jesus to let Him know that Lazarus is sick. Jesus can heal Lazarus in an instant. I don’t know why we didn’t think of this before, but it’s not yet too late.”

Martha eagerly agreed to the plan. “Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’” (John 11:3)

As they watched the servant running down the road with the note, Martha felt so much better. It would be all right. Jesus would take care of everything. The sisters rested well that night.

Their joy, however, was short-lived. Lazarus was worse in the morning. His fever was even higher, and no matter what Martha or Mary did throughout the day to bring the fever down, nothing worked. All they could do was sit by Lazarus’ bedside and watch his condition deteriorate.

That evening Martha called one of the young servant boys and asked him to spend the night outside the city gate and keep a watch for Jesus. Martha instructed the boy that as soon as he got his first glimpse of Jesus, he should come running to tell her. The servant boy took some provisions and headed off into the night.

Sleep did not come to Martha. She lay in the darkness trying to understand why Jesus hadn’t come. She was so sure that Jesus would immediately head to Bethany in order to heal His sick friend. Martha knew that Jesus had received the message. The servant who was sent with the note said he had found Jesus and given it to Him. Jesus knew, and He had not come. She tossed and turned throughout the night. In the morning, there were no dry places left on her pillow.

Martha dressed and headed towards Lazarus’ room. As soon as she opened the door, she knew something had happened overnight. She could sense a change in the room. The air smelled different. She saw Mary huddled in a pile at the foot of the bed sound asleep. It was just like Mary to spend all night here.

Martha went over to Lazarus and gasped. He looked so pale. He was barely breathing. She couldn’t move. She just stood there staring. All she could think was “Where is Jesus?” She had no answer.

Martha gently awakened Mary, and the two of them sat and watched as their brother quietly slipped away. Lazarus was dead, and Jesus had not come. The grief was almost unbearable.

Lazarus was buried later that day in the family tomb. People from all over Bethany and Jerusalem came to pay their respects. As people came and went from the home, Martha kept looking for Jesus in every face that came through the door. But it was never Jesus’ face. Her disappointment consumed her.

Four days after the burial, one of the servants pulled Martha aside and told her that Jesus had been spotted coming toward Bethany. She turned to tell Mary, but she stopped herself. She would tell Mary later. She needed to Jesus alone, and she didn’t want Mary to hear the conversation.

Martha left the house unobserved and headed toward the city gate to meet Jesus. With every step she practiced what she would say to Jesus. Her heart was bursting with grief, anger, and disappointment, and she wanted Jesus to know just how she felt and how He had let down her whole family.

But when she laid her eyes on Jesus, she ran to Him and collapsed into His arms. He held her tight as she sobbed. When she had regained her composure, she looked into Jesus’ face hoping to see an answer regarding His silence. She didn’t see an answer, but she did see overwhelming love.

“Now Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.’” (John 11:21-22)

Martha had been angry and disappointed, but she had not lost her faith in Jesus. She knew that Jesus could do something, just what she didn’t know.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’” (John 11:23-24)

As she stood there looking at Jesus, she saw a look of expectancy in His eyes. It was a joyful expectancy. She didn’t quite understand.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’” (John 11:25-27)

Jesus smiled at her response, His eyes twinkling. Martha began to feel hope swell in her heart, but she didn’t know why. No matter. Jesus was here. That was enough.

The group started walking to the house. Martha left Jesus and the disciples and ran on ahead. She found Mary in the crowd and whispered to her that Jesus had arrived. Mary jumped up and ran out of the house. Martha was close behind.

When Mary reached Jesus, she fell at His feet. Martha noted that Mary’s conversation with Jesus was pretty much what hers had been. They were sisters after all.

“And He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’” (John 11:34)

Martha and Mary led the way to the tomb, with Jesus and the disciples close behind. As they walked, others joined the group. By the time they reached the tomb, there was a fairly large crowd there, which included residents of Bethany and Jerusalem.

“Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’” (John 11:39)

Martha gasped. “'Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.’” (John 11:39)

Jesus turned to here and smiled gently. “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

Martha turned to the servants and nodded. “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.” (John 11:41)

The crowd watching was completely silent. All Martha could hear was a bird singing in a tree somewhere. It was oddly beautiful.

“And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.’ Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’” (John 11:41-43)

Martha stood there in astonishment. Mary clung to her. They didn’t move a muscle. Martha turned to look at Jesus. He stood there with a huge, expectant smile staring into the tomb opening. For a split second, Martha wondered if Jesus had lost His mind. She decided He was fine and turned her gaze expectantly toward the tomb.

“And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Loose him, and let him go.’” (John 11:44)

Martha and Mary ran toward Lazarus and helped to unwrap the cloth that they had so loving wrapped around him in grief only four days earlier. Martha turned to thank Jesus, but He had disappeared into the crowd. No matter. She would thank Him later. As she, Mary, and Lazarus walked toward home, Martha was already planning the feast in Jesus’ honor. The house would be filled with joy tonight.

The pain, grief, fear, and disappointment that Martha experienced (along with her sister Mary) was very real. And, yet, in the midst of the darkness she went through, Martha echoed the words of King David, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” (Psalm 56:3) Martha may not have understood the silence she received in answer to her petition, but she never lost her faith in Jesus and in His ability to redeem the situation.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.” (Psalm 42:5)

This is why Binding Broken Hearts is passionate about getting God’s Word into prisons and into the hands of inmates who so desperately need it so they can know the Word has the power to resurrect even the most desperate of situations. Because these are men and women who need Jesus most.

Perhaps you want to help spread the power of His Word to an inmate who desperately needs its power. If so, please consider becoming a financial partner with us. Click here to see how you can help.

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