In the hospital, my father-in-law went into a coma; medical technology indicated no brain activity. My godly mother-in-law made the decision to disconnect the respirator and trust her husband to the hands of the Great Physician. Like many other families, a difficult decision was faced. Each day is a matter of life and death—facing life and being prepared for death. Do we have the resources for it?
Mary, Martha and Lazarus, close friends of Jesus, experienced a life-and-death moment. Lazarus became very ill, and his sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” (v. 3). They probably thought that message was enough, and the loving relationship between them would bring an immediate response by Jesus. However, the crisis was an opportunity “for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified” (v. 4). Life and death must be surrendered to Jesus for His glory.
Trust Jesus in Your Life (
The message from Mary and Martha indicates their confidence in Jesus. This influential family had available resources, but they still turned to Jesus. Martha’s greeting, upon Jesus’ delayed coming, further demonstrates her trust. “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” (vv. 21-22). What is your source of confidence when the even-now experiences of life come? Faith is not just “Forsaking All I Take Him”; faith is also “For All I Trust Him.”
Life brings us the grief of various trials so that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (
The disciples questioned the wisdom of Jesus returning to Bethany, where “lately the Jews sought to stone” Him (v. 8). Jesus’ response (vv. 9-10) instructs us for how to live each day. Seize the moment. Live in the light of God’s will. Walk by faith. Trust Jesus in your life.
Jesus once asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” He issued that query after telling a parable encouraging us always “to pray and not lose heart” (
Trust Jesus in Your Death (
It is not enough to trust Jesus in our lives; we also must trust Him in our deaths. Dying on the cross, Jesus committed Himself into the Father’s hands. Can you do that when death approaches? Jesus only needed a tomb for a short while; there was neither time nor need to carve an epitaph on the stone. His word to Martha and us is far better. “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” (vv. 25-26). The raising of Lazarus displays the awesome power of Christ over the forces of evil, corruption and death.
Ours is a death-exalting and death-avoiding culture. While rock bands sing about death, we want the funeral director to disguise death. While some ask the physicians to take every measure to keep a loved one inhumanely alive, others go to a state where euthanasia has been legalized and ask for medication to end life. Abortions kill the unwanted infant while neonatal units fight to preserve premature births. We can’t have it both ways. Life is to be lived, and death must be faced.
What was Jesus’ attitude toward death? “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (v. 33). The word groan “connotes anger…Perhaps it expressed His resentment against the ravages of death that had entered the human world because of sin (Merrell C. Tenney. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 1981, p. 119). We have His promise, “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (
Do you believe this? “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (v. 26). My mother-in-law believed it and knew her husband did, also. That faith, while she lived, gave her the resources to tell the physicians to remove the machinery and let her husband go. The living Christ makes all the difference in life and death.