Finding Comfort in Trials 2

Finding Comfort in Trials 2

Meditation on John 11: Part 2

Author: Daniel Amari/Wednesday, May 29, 2024/Categories: Christianity, The Bible, New Testament, John, John 11 series Daniel Amari, Christ, Resurrection, Christian Life, Article, English

Meditation on John 11: Part 2

Daniel Amari

It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. (John 11:2)

This is Part 2 of the series. This verse is packed with important information. Before we analyze it, there are a few initial observations to be made:

First, the event concerning Mary occurred in the relative future. Therefore, John is referring to an event that took place after the Lazarus incident. This should not detract in any way because, as I clearly outlined in Part 1, John assumes that readers are familiar with these events. Furthermore, readers are expected to have read the Gospel of John multiple times. Here's a summary of Mary's story: She desired to honor the Lord Jesus in an exceptional manner, so she took a perfume worth perhaps a year's wages and poured it all on the Lord Jesus. She then used her hair to wipe his feet with the perfume. This act of reverence is clearly suited only for deity.

Second, the event of honoring the Lord occurred in chapter 12, directly following chapter 11. Therefore, John is not referring to an event that occurred outside of the New Testament or in another Gospel such as the Gospel of Matthew, but rather in the immediate context within the Gospel of John. The significance of this will become apparent as we delve further into the analysis.

John's inclusion of this information is significant. This verse was not added merely for the sake of providing extra detail, nor was it intended solely to further identify Mary, as additional information about her will be presented immediately in the next chapter, chapter 12. It is not characteristic of John to include irrelevant or redundant information. Instead, his purpose seems to be to communicate, remind, and emphasize to the reader that Mary was the one who greatly honored the Lord.

Let us consider verses 1 and 2 together thus far: Martha and Mary experienced a very difficult trial as their brother fell ill and eventually died. Additionally, Mary was the woman who greatly honored the Lord. What significance does this hold?

From a human perspective, this verse seems unexpected. The natural expectation might be to read about the faults or mistakes that either Mary or Martha had committed, leading to the trial they faced. Instead, we encounter something entirely different. It was Mary who had greatly honored the Lord.

Some might object, noting that the event of honoring the Lord occurred relatively in the future. However, it is vital to remember that John assumes his readers are familiar with various events, and from their perspective, all these events have already transpired in the past. Thus, John can use a relatively future event to underscore the point that Mary and Martha were devout.

The implication of this is most staggering. Our human minds often operate on a principle of fairness: good things should happen to good people, and bad things should happen to bad people. So, what could Mary and Martha have possibly done to deserve such a trial?

One vicious cycle that often occurs in the mind of a person going through a trial is the search for fault or mistake that caused the trial. There is a continual battle in the mind, seeking errors and mistakes that could have been avoided to prevent the trial. Often, the person in the midst of trial looks for someone or something to blame, seeking explanation and causation. This cycle leads to guilt, blame, depression, and discouragement. In fact, individuals like Martha and Mary may begin to question their past actions and choices, even when they were the right decisions at the time. One can imagine Martha and Mary questioning the past 20 years of their lives. Similarly, in modern contexts, if someone loses a child in a car accident that was completely not their fault, they might question whether they should have obtained a driver's license or even had children at all.

This draws a striking parallel between John chapter 11 and the book of Job. The opening verse of Job reads, 'There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.' Here, we find a similar pattern. Verse 1 of John 11 introduces Martha and Mary, while verse 2 provides an example, familiar to the reader, demonstrating the character of these two women.

So what is the biblical answer to the case of Mary and Martha and the blame that comes with it? The Bible simply states that Mary was one of the most devoted women who honored the Lord. End of story.

To all the Marys and Marthas of the world: I may not know you personally, nor the trials you are facing. But I want you to know that the reason for your trials is not because of any fault of yours. You are both wonderful Christians who have honored the Lord in your lives. Do not let the cycle of guilt, blame, and self-doubt dominate or define you. Reject any thought that suggests you are to blame for your trials. The true reasons lie elsewhere. Please stay tuned for the rest of this series.

 

Copyright 2024 by Daniel Amari. All Rights Reserved.

“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.”

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Daniel Amari
Daniel Amari

Daniel Amari

Researcher in Islam, Christian Apologist, Author, Speaker

Other posts by Daniel Amari
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Full biography

President of the Religion Research Institute, Author, Researcher in Islam, Christian Apologist, Guest, Host and Co-host of scholarly apologetics shows on TV and Social Media. President of the Religion Research Institute, an evangelical scholarly ministry dedicated to comparative religion, Islamic research, and Christian apologetics. Master of arts in New testament with focus on Biblical languages and Textual Criticism.

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