Jesus meets us where we are- Rev Joshua Ong

10 April 2014 by Adeline Lum CM-

 

On 6th of April, vicar Rev Joshua Ong shared how Jesus met with Mary and Martha on where they were, during their grieving period for Lazarus’ death (John 11:1-45) at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Petaling Jaya.

 

Vicar Rev Joshua Ong
Vicar Rev Joshua Ong

 

Started at the home of Mr and Mrs Harry Yun in 1956, St Paul’s Anglican church came from a small congregation desiring to come together to worship God, which grew into becoming a thriving church with more than 800 people in the English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, Tamil, and Myanmar service.

 

Worshiping in St Pauls Anglican Church
Worshiping in St Pauls Anglican Church

 

In the most recent service, Rev Joshua shared about how Mary and Martha were very disturbed because Jesus had not come in the first three days after their brother Lazarus died. The Jews believed that when a person dies, the spirit hovers around the body for three days, in which it leaves the body after that. Hence, any resurrection would be impossible then.

Yet, Jesus purposely came to the funeral on the fourth day because He wanted to show Mary and Martha that He has the power to resurrect lives, whether the person died four days ago or two thousand years ago.

In this account by John, Rev Joshua wanted to highlight how Jesus personally interacted with Mary and Martha during this grieving period before Lazarus’ resurrection.

 

Jesus with Martha versus Mary

 

James Ban (behind the pulpit), with Tan Joon Chee (who is serving as the People's Warden)
James Ban (behind the pulpit), with Tan Joon Chee (who is serving as the People’s Warden)

 

Rev Joshua shared that while Mary was more reflective, thoughtful, and meditative, her sister Martha was more quick-witted and sometimes, impatient, shown when Jesus was visiting them at their house (Luke 10:38-42). To put it simply, Mary was more of an introvert and Martha was more of an extrovert. While they are both very different, Jesus loved them (John 11:5)!

We can see His Love especially, by watching how He met Martha and Mary at their personal ways of handling grief. Rev Joshua shared that while some people handle grief in a more stoic and accepting manner (i.e. Martha), some handle it in a more expressive and emotional way (i.e. Mary). Likewise, Jesus can meet us at where we are as well—emotionally and temperamentally—because He knows who we are and how to interact with us.

 

How Jesus interacted with Martha?

 

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When Martha met Jesus, she said to Christ, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” before immediately continuing, “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”(John 11:21-22) Typical of an extrovert, Rev Joshua shared how she was quick to respond with possibilities or solutions, to which Jesus replied to her question that her brother would rise again (John 11:23). Immediately, Martha responded that she believes that her brother will rise again in the resurrection in the last day (John 11:24). At this point, Rev Joshua shared that Jesus could have raised Lazarus right away to fulfill Martha’s desire. However, He waited patiently instead by asking Martha on whether she believed that those who believe in Him will never die (John 11:25-26). This is because Jesus wanted to teach her to believe in Him, before He showed her Lazarus’ resurrection.

 

25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

 

Holy Communion
Holy Communion

 

However, while Martha said that she believes in what Jesus said (John 11:27), she began to doubt whether Jesus could resurrect Lazarus into life, shown when she protested that the body in the tomb would have stink by four days. If she would have believed, she would have gladly allowed the stone to be rolled away instead of protesting. Upon hearing this, Jesus reminded Martha again of the lesson He wanted her to learn; He said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

The way Jesus dealt with Martha was verbally answering her questions and reminding her to believe, supposedly through reasoning. By speaking to Martha, he was able to teach Martha the specific lesson He wanted her to learn.

 

How Jesus interacted with Mary?

 

Congregation lining up for Holy Communion, while kneeling in repentance
Congregation lining up for Holy Communion, while kneeling in repentance

 

How did Jesus respond to the meditative Mary? We can see that Mary appeared to be more passive in her response to Christ. While Martha asked for an opportunity for Lazarus’ resurrection, Mary did not pursue Christ to do anything but to fall on His feet. Using the same way He used to relate to Martha would not be beneficial for Mary—as in reasoning in a conversation—because Mary who was weeping would probably be too emotionally distraught to think. In fact, seeing Mary wept, Jesus became deeply emotionally troubled as well in the Spirit and wept as well with Mary (John 11:33-35). This genuine response of Jesus weeping with Mary would probably speak more to Mary’s heart than with Martha.

The way that Jesus dealt with Mary hence, was to bring her to a definite conclusion of actually raising Lazarus. Instead of reasoning with Mary like Martha, He wept with her, which probably meant more to Mary.

 

So, what can we learn here?

 

Rev Peter Young who served as a Vicar of St Pauls Anglican Church in 1969-1970
Rev Peter Young who served as a Vicar of St Pauls Anglican Church in 1969-1970

 

Although Jesus used different approaches in handling Martha’s and Mary’s grief, He wanted them to know that He is the resurrection and the life. The best thing about getting close to God is that He will personally relate to us in a way that speaks most to our heart, just like how Jesus related to Mary and Martha.

Rev Joshua also shared that Mary and Martha gained a deep revelation of who Christ is because of their close relationship with Him. In other words, the extent of a revelation from God depends on how close you are to God; the closer you are to God, the deeper the revelation.

Next, questions, doubts, and uncertainties are very important as we journey with God. The way Jesus answered Martha by words followed by action, show how God is interested in answering our questions if we asked Him.

Lastly, Rev Joshua shared that we need to look beyond all our doubts and confusions to anchor ourselves on the firm and secure promises of God (Heb 6:19), which says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain (Heb 6:19).” Although it appeared impossible to resurrect a dead man, Jesus is able to do that! Likewise, in all situations, anchor your hope on the firm and secure promises of God, which you can find in the Bible.

 

Visit St Paul’s Anglican Church at www.stpaulpj.org.my

 

St Pauls Anglican Church
St Pauls Anglican Church

 

Address : No 1, Lorong Utara Kecil, Sek 52, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan

Email : admin@stpaulpj.org.my

 

Services and meetings :

7 AM

Holy Eucharist (Said)

 

9 AM

Holy Eucharist (Sung)

Youth Service

Sunday School (Refreshments and Fellowship after Service)

 

11:15 AM

Mandarin Service

 

11:30 AM

Contemporary Service

 

1 PM
Myanmar Service (2nd and 4th week of the month)

 

2 PM

Bahasa Malaysia Service

 

5:15 PM

Holy Eucharist (Tamil)

 

Playground in the compound of St Pauls Anglican Church
Playground in the compound of St Pauls Anglican Church

 

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