17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house.
Jesus returned to Bethany from across the Jordan River to visit Lazarus’ sisters. Lazarus had been dead and buried four days. The mourners were still present, comforting the sisters.
Jesus was committed to develop the faith of Lazarus’ sisters as well as His disciples (Jn 11:26, 40). Trial brings an opportunity to grow in faith.
So when Jesus came,
Jesus had now come back from across the Jordan River. This was the day that Martha and Mary had anticipated.
He found that he had already been in the tomb [sepulcher or cave] four days.
Lazarus died after the messengers left to tell Jesus that he was sick. He had been dead and buried four days before Jesus arrived. The length of time clearly established that Lazarus had died. Decomposition sets in quickly because of hot temperatures in Israel, so it was customary to bury the dead the same day of death.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away.
The nearness of Bethany to Jerusalem was important because people were trying to kill Jesus in the capital city.
And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary,
Jews here came to comfort Martha and Mary in their bereavement. “Many” would witness the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
to comfort them concerning their brother.
It was customary for friends and neighbors to comfort the bereaved for one week. Women would stay for a 30-day period. They would cry out with loud wailing and demonstrate other dramatic displays of grief.
Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him,
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming into town, she went out to meet Him on the outskirts of Bethany. She met Him some distance from her home.
but Mary was sitting in the house.
Martha was a woman of action. Mary appears to have been more contemplative. This is consistent with how the synoptic gospels present these women. Mary had sat at the feet of Jesus on a previous occasion to learn from Him while Martha was busy with housework.
God sovereignly allows the timing of the trouble that comes into our lives.
Some people feel that the Lord is not there when they need Him. “Where were you when I was in my crisis?” “Why don’t you resolve my situation immediately? Why leave me to linger in my horrible situation?” Jesus relates to us in His own timing. He sovereignly designs in His judgment what is most appropriate for us.