21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
Now Martha said to Jesus,
Martha’s words here did not rebuke Jesus but merely conveyed her grief and lament.
“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
The implication of Martha’s statement is that if Jesus would have arrived before Lazarus died, he would have been healed. Her premise rested on Jesus being physically present. Also she did not know that He would raise Lazarus from the dead.
This was a report of Martha’s incomplete understanding of what Jesus could do. She did not make a critical accusation of Jesus but simply stated a bald fact. It was simply an expression of grief.
But even now I know that whatever You ask of God,
Martha knew that the Father would have answered Jesus’ prayer for Lazarus’ healing if He had come on time.
There are two Greek words for “ask.” One word portrays the idea of familiar asking, an inferior asking a superior for something (aitheo); this is the word that Martha used. The other word means to make a petition from an equal (eroteo); this is the word Jesus used in prayer. Christ never employed the word for familiar asking (aitheo) to the Father. However, Martha used it here of Christ petitioning the Father. She did not grasp the full relationship of the Father and Son.
God will give You.”
Martha believed that Jesus could have healed Lazarus’ sickness but did not believe He could raise him from the dead. She expressed her doubt in John 11:39 that Jesus would do that. She did somewhat recognize the unique relationship between the Father and the Son. Martha had not lost confidence in Jesus. She was swift to affirm her faith in Jesus (v. 27), yet she did not fully recognize what He could do. Martha had an imperfect knowledge of the Son’s relation to the Father. She viewed it as a fundamentally human relation.
All of us struggle between trust in the Lord and lament of our situation.
Our Lord did not rebuke Martha for her words. She mingled both faith and lament toward Jesus. She had difficulty in sorting out her situation.
We often communicate like Martha when we inject “ifs” into our situation: “If the doctor had arrived on time . . . if I had come home sooner . . . then things would have been different.” All those “ifs” overlook God’s sovereign plan.
It is not wrong to reverently examine our problems in the light of Scripture. We all question why God was supposedly “not there” in our trial. However, we must keep in mind that God sovereignly manages our problems under His own timetable. There are times when God puts us through trial to do something with us or others.