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John 11 v 20 - 29

Jesus remained a little outside the village to give Mary and Martha an opportunity to see Him without the crowds of mourners. Martha, typically, was the first sister to go out to Him. She shows great faith in His power by asserting that Jesus would have healed her brother if He had got there sooner-maybe a little tone of complaint there-but Jesus refuses to be any other than who He is and claims to Martha that she will see far greater things accomplished than her faith will allow. A couple of things for us from this...1. We should be prepared to look only to God for guidance and blessing and not be prepared to conform to the world's expectations; 2. Our God is far greater and can do far more than we, with our limited imagination, can be prepared for. Interestingly here, Martha's view of the afterlife revealed that Jewish belief had advanced in the inter-testamental period between Old and New. The common understanding in the Old was that souls went to Sheol, 'the land of shades,' upon death, good and bad alike (look up for example, Psalm 6 v 5, Isaiah 38 v 18). There was very little to look forward to! By the time when Martha was alive, most Jews believed in an afterlife with rewards based on righteous living in the current life. We know that one group of religious leaders didn't believe this- the Saducees (Mark 12 v 18)-but other groups such as the Pharisees did. Jesus's thinking is aligned with Martha's, but His words bring a vividness and meaning to it all: ''Believe in me'' Jesus declared (words which I read aloud at the beginning of funeral services) ''and you will live and not die!''Jesus brings us alive when we have been dead to sin and once we are children of the living God we are guaranteed eternal life, joy without end! Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do you believe that every word He said was true? To do this brings meaning and hope into our lives.

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