21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
(The Resurrection of Lazarus by Henry Ossawa Tanner d. 1937)
Thoughts: Three times someone said to Jesus, "If you had been here you could have kept this from happening." In a twisted way, this is faith. In another way, it is angry faith. Why didn't God prevent this good man from dying? God had a further purpose in mind (God's glory- 11:4). Why doesn't God ride into the rescue all the time and prevent earthquakes, hurricanes, nuclear disasters, tsunamis? It would be ridiculous to answer this simply- yet the answer is left in the mystery of the purposes of God. To complain that God did not perform a miracle to prevent tragedy, is a waste of breath and thought. A more constructive thought would be to believe He is the resurrection and the life (11:25), and that He loves those who are hurting, sympathizing with their pain- as He did Lazarus's.
Prayer: May those who wonder where you were, find your help and strength, O Lord. Especially we pray for the people of Japan and Lybia this day.
John Calvin Abridged: "Lord if you had been here"- The power of Christ ought not to have been limited to his bodily presence. We show our ingratitude against God when we complain that He did not save us as we thought he ought. If He does not grant all our wishes we immediately launch into complaints. There are two dangers here: 1) We rashly desire what is expedient for us- subjecting God to the perverse desires of the flesh; 2) We are rude and impatient in our ardor.