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People Jesus Loves

Modern Bethany behind the wall

Today, Bethany is a little Arab neighborhood that lies behind an Israeli security wall, on the eastern slope of Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.

On a recent visit, I had a chance to meet this man who was selling a refreshing pomegranate drink. As it turns out, he  lives within a hundred miles from my house in Michigan.

He told me he had returned to his childhood home Bethany to help his mother after the death of his father.

Meeting him helped to personalize the story the Bible tells about his hometown.

Bethany was the home of 3 close friends of Jesus. The gospel writer John makes a point of saying that Jesus loved a man named Lazarus, and his two sisters Mary and Martha (John 11:5).

But something interesting happened when Jesus got an urgent message from the sisters asking him to come quickly because “He whom you love is sick” (John 11:3).

After getting the message we read, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (v 5).

Entrance to traditional site

By the time Jesus finally decided to come to Bethany, Lazarus had been buried for 4 days (17). Upon arrival both sisters at different times cried to Jesus saying, “Lord if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (21, 32).

It was here in Bethany that the Gospel tells us that when Jesus saw how deeply the sisters and their Jewish friends grieved the loss of Lazarus, he groaned within himself. Here we also find the shortest sentence in the Bible that says simply, “Jesus cried.” (35).

The teacher’s tears caused the Jewish friends of the sisters to say, “Look how he loved him!” (36)

The resurrection of Lazarus that followed provided dramatic reason to believe Jesus when he said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (25-26)

A few days later, according to the Gospel writer John,many of the people of Bethany showed up in the clamoring crowd that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as the long awaited delivering King of Israel (John 12:12-18).

Meanwhile, because of the resurrection of Lazarus in Bethany, the leaders of the Jewish people were plotting to kill Jesus (10-11).

The events of the next week help us to understand that Jesus didn’t just love Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They show much he and his Father love us.

Looking back, can we also find hope for ourselves, and the “divine delays” we are struggling with– in the words, ““Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (v 5)?

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26 Responses to “People Jesus Loves”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    I always love the story of Lazarus, for many reasons. When Matthew wrecked his car and landed in the hospital his worse injuries was his fractured and lacerated skull.

    The extended time of blood loss to his brain caused him his major problems.

    As I prayed and pray for his full recovery, I constantly was reminded of Lazarus, who had lay dead for four days….dead with no blood flow to his brain or anywhere.

    Knowing that lazarus walked out of his tomb gives me hope that when God is ready, My son will also walk again, as well as many whom I have loved will walk out of their tombs.

    It is one of many experiances whereby when Jesus showed up, things changed. Jairus’s daughter is another example of how the impossible becomes possible when Christ arrives on the scene. Mark 5:22-43

    The fact that Jesus wept, tells me he feels our pain and though knowing that a change of events is only moments away, he weeps with us because of our pain.

    What a day it will be when all in Christ rise again, and not only walk, but fly away.


  2. SFDBWV says:

    Seeing the question mark at the end of Mart’s comment,reminded me of how often we ask why. As if God needed to explain to us His actions.

    I know one thing, there will be a time when all the questions we have will be answered, and when they are, then we will see the purpose and wisdom in God’s delays.

    I want to share a little incident in our lives with you this morning. Yesterday as Matt was struggling with a physical matter, I turned up the music he was listening to so he could hear it, and under my breath in my head I offered up a prayer for him to be able to accomplish his goal. I was in another room.

    Matt did accomplish his goal, and then went on to tell me that he could hear me praying for him and it gave him the confidence to keep trying until he succeeded.

    I did not pray out loud and had turned up the music in order for him to hear that…but he heard my silent prayer instead.

    One little victory, one. Encouragement and comfort always precedes another struggle, but oh how so quick we are to forget….


  3. BruceC says:

    Good point Mart about the “divine delays”. We live in a world of instant gratification. In our culture we want things when we want them and we never believe that bad things should or could happen to us. Anyone ever see the TV ad for a company that pays out a lump sum to people that have a structured settlement from a lawsuit? “It’s my money and I want it now!!” That’s our world today. Many Christians wrongly believe(some wrongly taught) that God has become our personal butler and you just need strong faith to get your way. This omits God’s sovereignty and will. There’s a chance that Mary and Martha were a little upset with Jesus because Lazarus died during the delay of Jesus. But God’s Word shows other delays also along with the power and glory of our Lord.
    I like the saying “God is on time all the time”.
    We as believers sometimes have to endure the delays and waits; as hard as that may seem. I have been praying for my brothers’ salvation for years and I am still waiting. Lord; help us to endure the waiting.


  4. scout1 says:

    Good Morning!

    Thank you Mart for the post and the pictures. And a big AMEN to Mart, Steve and Bruce! Seems I needed this topic today.


  5. InHisHands says:

    Brrrrr, Good Morning from the desert. It gets cold out here, too. It is 40 degrees and a little cloudy right now. I pray for you all living where the snow will soon be covering the ground. While I like to go play in the snow, it is not my idea of fun, living with it on a daily basis for months at a time.

    Thank you for your insights to the “delays” we encounter. There have been many wise messages on this portion of Scripture and for me it is an area of my life where I didn’t quite *get* all the lessons, because I am still in training. When the LORD is teaching ‘me’ something, I often need to go through the same lessons – guess that is my human ‘sinful’ nature coming out. As with this court case of my son’s, I tend to angry frustration, rather than peaceful confidence. The LORD has never let me down, and I know in my head and heart that this is going to come out right – however, the steps along the way seem so long and arduous to endure. I go to the LORD first thing, then tend to rush in and take back the ‘worry’ and ‘unnecessary anger’ and have to repent, because I know He already knows the ‘beginning and the end’ and in His time it will be resolved.

    You, on this blog, are in my prayers. For healing and comfort, peace and confidence in His caring in all of your various situations.

    Have a blessed day!!!

  6. poohpity says:

    At times I allow my children to guide my decisions by that hurry up attitude. When I know it would be best for them to learn to trust God and not me. I pretty much cripple them in many areas by doing for them what they need to trust God in and learn to do for themselves then it is me who gets the glory.

    God ways are not my ways and His timing is not my timing and then when and how God answers my prayers it is Him that gets the Glory and praise. Then there is also my faith that is developed further by my waiting and trusting.

  7. pegramsdell says:

    Yes Mart. I can find comfort in waiting for Jesus! I think it’s because I know that He is in control and knows everything. It is hard to wait though. But, if I can trust Him and wait, it is soooo worth it.

    Oh, btw…just went though a procedure and passed with flying colors. Thank You Jesus! and thank you friends on facebook, deb, kathy, etc…for praying.

  8. poohpity says:

    Yes, Jesus loves us more than we as human beings ever could but we love as much as we can.

    Your more than welcome Peg. :-)

  9. davids says:

    Hurting from a toothache, I decided to open up “Christian Disciplines” by Oswald Chambers (available through RBC ministries) and turned to the chapter about The Disclipline of Suffering.

    (I am not trying to compare a toothache to real suffering – it was only my motivation to read.)

    Oswald relates a sermon someone delivered:
    “Have you, I wonder, ever had to do something to a pet dog in order to get it well, something which hurt it very much—pulled a thorn out of its foot, or washed out a wound, or anything of that sort? If so, you will remember the expression of dumb eloquence in the eyes of the dog as he looked at you; what you were doing hurt him tremendously and yet there seemed to speak from his eyes such a trust of you as if he would say, ‘I don’t in the least understand what you are doing, what you are doing hurts, but go on with it.'”

    Then Oswald says, “It is very necessary to be brought to the stage of trust…[when]…we have to look up mutely to God and say, ‘I don’t understand it at all, but go on with what you are doing'”.

    That struck me as such a beautiful illustration of the Christian attitide that I should have.


    And I thank God for the Internet, which not only allows us to connect, but made it possible for me to find and copy that text, instead of typing it all in!

  10. Elaa says:

    “Divine Delays”. You know, one of the things that ‘scare’ me about being a believer is that I never know when the greater glory is going to come from me ‘dying’ because God has ‘resurrection’ in mind! Things are getting bad and I’m praying and praying and every now and then I say, “God, You’re going to let this fall apart completely because You can put it back together again, aren’t You?” Of course, I don’t get an answer. But there is that knowing.

    Mary and Martha didn’t even know that after it was over, it could begin again, but we know. I don’t mean that I bring out the deck chair and sit in the sun because I know. I would wear a path in the carpet from pacing if I could. But even if I find myself admitting rather grudgingly, I know, God’s got me covered on this one too, anyhow things turn out!

  11. Bob in Cornwall England says:


    I do understand what you are saying about trust, but we are more to God than mere pets!
    Yesterday I watched a brilliant BBC drama on daytime TV about a 15 year old boy who attended a catholic school and was being bullied because he was struggling with his sexuality.
    He tried to kill himself and the school and bible text quoted said as a gay person he would not go to heaven.
    The priest at the local church they attended said. “The bible can be miss quoted and taken out of context, don’t tell the pope, but the God I believe in and trust will not condemn and loves anyone who is true to themselves”
    Mary. Martha and Lazarus were “true to themselves”, so am I, that is why we are the people Jesus loves.


  12. SFDBWV says:

    One of the telling side stories connected to the story of Lazarus is the incredable attitude and action of the religious leaders that followed this event.

    They plotted to kill both Jesus and Lazarus, imediately after witnessing the event.

    It is one of thoes situations which made me realize that either these men were unbelievably stupid or were blinded from the truth. In the same fashion as was Pharaoh.

    They plotted to kill Lazareth because many influential people believed because of the event, they wanted to kill Jesus because He didn’t bow down to their *authority*.

    Yet if you think about it, how in the world could someone not accept the credentials of a man who just called a dead man back to life, four days in a grave?

    Was this exactly as God wanted events to transpire? Were mens hearts hardened in order to exact the event as God wanted?

    Does this mean that people whom God uses to carry out His plans from the other side of events, He does not love? Without them the story could not have happened as it did.

    Looking at all the Prophets of the OT, most all had a life of sacrifice and troubles as a result of being *chosen* to be used of God.

    Lazareth had to endure sickness and death, his family put through the pain of loss…all for the purpose of God…

    It seems to play out that if God loves us and we ask Him to use us, that we are in for a rough ride. At least for the here and now, while we trust and await a better…future.


  13. SFDBWV says:

    Strange also is the special attention to detail given to John as the Disciple whom Jesus loved. John 19:26-27

    the same illustration given in John 13:23, Peter asking the Disciple whom was leaning on Jesus to ask Him Jesus) if it were he whom was to betray Him.

    One can actually visit the house in which Mary lived in, today, as well as the Isle of Patmos where John was exiled to live out his long days…the only Disciple not to die a violent death.

    It must be remembered that all of life all of existence is not about me, but is all about Him…I have to ask, is there any whom Jesus does not love???


  14. Mart De Haan says:

    Bob, the inexcusable bullying and abuse of the 15 year old you describe deserves to be condemned. And the local parish priest was right in saying that the Bible can be misquoted with great harm to those God loves.

    The idea that a person who is struggling with their sexuality cannot go to heaven even if they have placed their trust in Jesus is also horrendous– as is the teaching that those who take their own lives cannot go to heaven– after expressing faith in Jesus’ death for them.

    The reason I want to respond to you on this is that “being true to ourselves” can mean so many different things.

    If by i.e. “being true to ourselves” we mean that we are acknowledging the truth about what we desire and long for and are reaching out to God in truth– rather than in a denial of ‘the way things are in us,’ I’m guessing we would all acknowledge that our God wants us to come to the truth of who he is with the truth of who we are.

    Certainly we are all broken and sinful enough to have reason to come to him often with an acknowledgment of our own inability to understand or live up to his love and wisdom. Being true to our Lord by being honest about ourselves is so important.

    But what if the bullies of the 15 year old, or the “authorities” of the church tried to justify their actions by saying that they were “being true to themselves”? (even though the church authorities would probably say they were being true to God– while actually only being true to their own misguided interpretations).

    That’s why I think trust in the truth of what God reveals about himself is so important– even as we struggle honestly with all of the broken things about ourselves.

    I’m sure you’d agree that we need need a way of measuring our reality– just as we need a standard of true “weights and measures” to recognize the difference between the desires of God and our own longings. For, as the Apostle Paul said on another issue, “Those who measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves among themselves are not wise” (2Cor 10:12).

    From all that you’ve expressed in the past, I’m guessing that you would not disagree with this.

    If I’m misreading you, and missing your point… hey, let’s keep talking. In so many ways I feel like you’ve been (over the months and so many conversations) a fresh wind of grace and example of Christ-centeredness in the honesty you’ve expressed.

  15. poohpity says:

    Elaa, If I am not mistaken you seem to be so discouraged in the struggles you are going through at this time. I have been in those situations many times but Christ seems to come in somehow and in someway to lift our spirits so that we may rejoice in something and most of the time it is in His care. I know for myself the problems did not change but the way I looked at them did. None of us can bring you the comfort only God can but know that I will be coming along side you in prayers to restore your hope.

    I agree Mart that the openness that Bob has shared on here is a good example of being honest about who he is and the struggles he goes through. He touched my heart and opened my eyes to how important it is for each of us to consider the sin that each of us struggles with. It seems to be so much easier to look at the sin in someone else and to measure our self worth by that rather to consider comparing ourselves to Christ and knowing how we each fall so short.

  16. rokdude5 says:

    “Divine Delays”…looking from our own perspective, I can readily see how that phrase was coined but looking from God’s perspective, His time is always at the right moment whether it be the 40 years of wandering by the Jews in Exodus or the absent of prophets for 400 years or receiving a merciful reprieve from our own life’s challenges.

    Whatever we are going through, we can and must rest upon the fact that God loves us. RJ

  17. davids says:

    Hi Bob,

    Sorry if my post put an analogy in a troubling way to you. I just meant it as an illustration about trust.

    I think that many of us find these bullying incidents disturbing. My 13-year old son was harassed last year, and I know that it was a very difficult time for him.

    We had a homosexual couple in our congregation as visitors in Belgium for a few months, and we lost some families due to the Pastor’s willingness to hold his ground that we will not turn away anyone in Jesus name.

    For teens especially the “Devine Delays” are hard. They are in a rush and every day of pain, hardship, and rejection is a lifetime for them.

  18. poohpity says:

    Obviously the families that left do not need the righteousness of Christ they have their own.

  19. marma says:

    Love can be expressed in so many different ways. I think that we humans often equate love with the pleasant, when sometimes love can be a painful thing, but afterwards yielding fruit.

    When we pray or sing “that I may know him, wonderful Lord,” do we stop at the “power of His resurrection” in our minds and want to leave behind “and join in fellowship with his sufferings … being made conformable to His death” as also part of the life that draws us to HImself?

    The power of the resurrection means so much because it was preceded by Christ’s death on a cross.

    The story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus has always been one of my favorites, because it highlights Jesus’ love against what looks like an uncaring act–waiting. Lazarus’ death and resurrection was a pivotal event–it kicked off the events that led to Christ’s death on the cross and at the same time showed the power of God over the grave and was perhaps a great help to the believers when Christ himself rose from the dead. KInd of a preparation for their faith.

    This seems to me to be a characteristic of God, to perform things in the lives of those He loves to increase their faith in Him for the next thing He is going to do, and also to provide a way for them to make His actions personal to those He loves.

    Thanks for your thoughts on a favorite story, Mart. I really appreciated them and am going to reread them tomorrow.

  20. marma says:

    I just reread my post and realize I need to reword part of a sentence.

    …provide a way for those He loves to experience His actions in a personal way.

  21. Bob in Cornwall England says:


    I am a little taken aback by your your response to my comment, not because of it’s content but by the length.
    Since I have been on here I have never seen such a concise and lengthy response from you.
    The BBC drama made me cry, because it took me nearly 40 years to get to where this 15 year old had got. A life wasted because of dogma and wrong thinking by “Christ like” people and my own fear!
    I am lucky, I have met and know Jesus of Nazareth, who lived as a man on this earth, died as a sacrifice for my sin, and rose to be my high priest and friend and who will return to establish His rule on earth.
    Everything else is mere nonsense in comparison.
    Mart, I have seen you on video and have listened to you on here, I know you are a man of God, you trust in and believe in Jesus, The Christ, The Annointed one, The Messiah.
    What you said today, to me, shows and proves that Jesus Lives.


  22. Bob in Cornwall England says:


    It also shows and proves that Jesus Lives in you!

  23. pegramsdell says:

    awesome. well said bob. in total agreement.

  24. SFDBWV says:

    I like the not so by chance meeting Mart has with a man who lives within 100 miles of his home back in Michigan while many thousands of miles away.

    I never think of these moments a a chance meeting but rather feel God’s hand upon the matter.

    I wonder now how meeting this man and his talking with Mart has followed through with Mart’s influence with him? as well as has effected Mart.

    I have learned that people we only say hello to sometimes are very effected by that one little moment together.

    That it becomes my driven purpose to put my best foot forward to ensure that the encounter is as pleasent as it can be…So that if I am remembered, it is a pleasent memory. Though there are times I fail.

    Whenever possible it is my thrill and honor if I am remembered in the light of Christ and am remembered as being that pleasent Christian fellow.

    Sometimes though, I have been told to be silent as far as presenting Christ, I am somewhat confused when that happens, but know God wants me to delay that for the time being because He has a reason to do so.

    Elaa, the kind of faith you demonstrate is exactly how we cope…We just trust and believe, no matter what the circumstances in our lives.


  25. jamesranchi says:

    I am a regular reader but it is the first time leaving a comment. thanks for the blog and the comments with wisdom of God.

    Yes it definitely makes sense to the delays. When we believe it becomes “divine delays”. Doesn’t it also say that the Lord needs his loved ones more than then to endure pain to establish His kingdom and show the world he is the resurrection and life?

    Martha’s and Mary’s pain was turned to overwhelming joy within a week as Jesus was close to them physically and how long it would take for us is again his heavenly wisdom.

    However I am willing and happy to be privileged to be part of the heavenly mission he left to his loves ones.
    James, Ranchi, India

  26. Jason says:

    Welcome James

    I am also happy that Jesus loves me unconditionally. I love Him as well. I feel sorry for those that don’t believe and have no room in their hearts for His love.

    It’s a very foggy night here, still no snow :) Other parts of the country have lots already.

    God bless,
    Jason in Saskatchewan Canada

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