Over the last couple of nights, The Lord has been speaking to me about how we minister to others. Jesus is our yardstick and the perfect example for us to study.
Scripture is quite clear that Jesus, when on earth as a man, was divine. Jesus was 100% God, while at the same time, He was 100% man.
In His dealing with those around Him, Jesus addressed the relevant issues and interactions from either stand point, as the situation dictated, and so His response was correct and appropriate in each case, be He answering as God, or man.
A good illustration of this can be found in John 11, and the reactions of Jesus to the two women, Mary and Martha, whose brother Lazarus of Bethany was ill, unto death. The sisters has sent for Jesus, telling Him that His friend Lazarus was ill, but Jesus had not returned to Bethany, a distance of only 15 stadia or about 2 miles (3+ Km.), saying to those around Him, “This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God might be glorified by it” John 11:4.
Jesus then tarried in Jerusalem for a number of days more, before returned to Bethany, such that Lazarus had died and been in his tomb for four days by the time He approached the town.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him, leaving Mary was sitting in the house with the mourners.
“Then Martha said to Jesus, Lord, “If You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now, whatever You will ask of God, God will give You.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother shall rise again”. Martha said to Him, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.” John 11:20-27 emphasis added.
After Martha and Jesus had spoken, as John 11:28-29 says, Martha went away and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The Teacher has come and calls you” Immediately she arose and quickly went to see Jesus, though Jesus had not yet reached the town, but was still where Martha had met Him. The Jews who were in the house mourning with her for Lazarus, also followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”
“Then when Mary had come where Jesus was, seeing Him, Mary fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Then when He saw her weeping, and also the Jews who came with her weeping, Jesus groaned in the spirit and troubled Himself. And He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to Him, Lord, come and see.
Then the Jews said, “Behold how He loved him!” And some of them said, “Was not this Man who opened the eyes of the blind able also to cause that even this one should not have died?” John 11: 32-37 emphasis added.
Both women had arrived and spoken the same words to Jesus “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died,” John 11:21, 32, yet the words elicited completely different responses from Jesus.
When Martha spoke, Jesus replied in His full divinity, telling her that Lazarus would rise again. Martha misunderstood the words of Jesus, thinking that He meant at a time, distant in the future. But He corrected her theology and scripture understanding as He confirmed unequivocally who He was , saying, “I am the Resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
This was Jesus speaking as God. It was all Godly power, Godly majesty and Godly dignity, with no doubts, or possibilities of ambiguities or misunderstandings.
After Martha acknowledge who He was, Jesus did not reply or make comment, as He watched her leave and return to fetch her sister Mary, for as God, He certainly knew what was about to happen.
When Mary arrived to meet Jesus and said exactly the same words, the difference in reaction could not be more of a contrast. Jesus at first did not answer her, but, as verse 33 says, “Jesus groaned in the spirit and troubled Himself.” Some translations say “Jesus was very upset..” or “He was moved in His spirit,” but these are mistranslations of the word, “groaned.”
The original Greek word used here for groaned is: ἐμβριμάομαι embrimaomai (em-brim-ah’-om-ahee). βριμάομαι brimaomai means to snort with anger; to have indignation on, that is, (transitively) to blame, (intransitively) to sigh with chagrin, (specifically) to sternly enjoin: – straitly charge, groan, murmur against.
Jesus’ reaction to the words of Mary, was “to snort with anger” as He asked in reply, “Where have you laid him?”
On being shown the tomb, as verse 35 says, “Jesus wept.”
The reaction to Mary was from Jesus as 100% man. His emotion showed. His empathy flowed. He was lost for words in the situation as He broke down in tears for His friend, Lazarus of Bethany.
Even although Jesus knew that He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He was able to separate His divine nature from His human nature and provide the appropriate response for the situation.
As I asked the Lord for direction on His teaching, I understood that it was to apply to how I, how we, minister to God’s children. At times, like when addressing a Martha, it may be necessary and appropriate to dwell on the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and to guide the Martha to Him for direction and resolution of the issue at hand.
However, there are times when for a Mary, it may be more appropriate to say nothing, and get down on ones knees and weep with her.
Both are valid and Godly responses.
As Jesus, both fully God and fully man, was able to discern perfectly the times and the situations, but if we are filled with the Holy Spirit and let Him lead us, then there is no reason why we cannot get it right too.
As I write that, I am reminded of Job’s three friends came to be with him, “And they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights. And no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great” Job 2:13. All was well, so to speak, for seven days and nights while they remained silent, but when they broke silence and spoke, it all went wrong, with the Lord chastening them in Job 42:7 as He announced His wrath was aroused against the three, for they did not speak what was right.
What is the difference between us and Job’s three caring friends? Simply this, the Holy Spirit dwells within us and will lead us, if we will but let Him, to the appropriate response applicable to the circumstances.