Acts III Global Ministries

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Approaching Jesus

In my walk with the Lord, I have personally and corporately (as a Body of Christ) seen prayers both miraculously answered and prayers that seemed to go unanswered. Once while seeking the Lord on this topic, I came across a very interesting account in the Gospel of John. The story was recounting the sickness, death and resurrection of Lazarus.

Here is the setting for the story from the Gospel of John, Chapter 11 (NASB).

"1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick." 4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it." 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was."

So we have the setting...Lazarus, a man whom Jesus loved was dying, but Jesus stayed where He was for two more days. He did it, so that God may be glorified. He had a plan, even though no one else saw it. Let's continue the biblical account:

"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 off; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 "Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world." 28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you."

Notice that when Jesus finally reaches the town that Lazarus has already been in the grave for four days. In verse 20 Martha finds out that Jesus is coming and she "went to meet Him." What is interesting is that the word that is translated in the original Greek as "went to meet" is hupantao {hoop-an-tah'-o}. (Strong's 5221)

This word in the Greek has a military connotation to it. It means to confront. It is also used to describe how the demoniacs approached Jesus in Matthew 8:28: 

"And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met5221 him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way." (KJV) 

You see, Martha "went to meet" Jesus to battle Him and give Him a piece of her mind. I can just see Martha blaming Jesus all those long 4 days that her brother was dead and in the tomb. She went to meet Jesus to confront Him. Notice their dialogue in verses 21-27 above.

The dialogue ends with Martha running off to tell Mary that Jesus called for her when He really did not. Now, notice how Mary approaches Jesus and their dialogue below in verses 28 - :

28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, "Where have you laid him?" They *said to Him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept."

Notice the following:

Mary was "coming to Him." This word gives the common idea of coming as though one has been summoned. She is not coming out of anger or with a chip on her shoulder, she is coming to her Savior because she was told He sent for her. 

When Mary saw Jesus, she fell at His feet. She came in humbleness, brokenness, and humility. She knew He was still her savior despite what had happened to her brother. Notice their conversation. 

She says the exact same words to Jesus as Martha!!! Compare them. 

Look at verse 33 and see how Jesus responded. When He saw their pain and their weeping, "He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled," Why did not Martha get the same response??? It was because of how she approached Him. 

Next, look at verse 35...Jesus, the Lord and Creator of all things...WEPT! 

So you see, it matters how we approach the Lord. Many people misuse the Scripture in Hebrews 4:16 to make our Risen Savior out to be a Genie in a Bottle. That's the name-it-and-claim-it mentality. Jesus gave us everything, and He owes us nothing. We need to approach Him like the Sovereign Savior He is, not like a spoiled Martha that thinks He owes us something.

Something that you might want to study or meditate on is verse 30. Note that it indicates that Jesus had not moved from the point where Martha "MET" Him. Is there a deeper meaning there? He did not move until Martha came humbly to Him. Did Martha delay Jesus' return because of her actions? Does that still happen in the Body of Christ today?

To study this more, read our lesson on "Hindering God."


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