The cold grip of mournful acceptance met Jesus as he made his way to the home of Martha and Mary. Although he had been summoned days earlier, Jesus arrived in Bethany four days after Lazarus’ death.
In those days, many Jews believed a person’s spirit hovered above the body for three days but there was no hope by the fourth day.
Into this atmosphere, Jesus met Martha, Lazarus’ sister. Undoubtedly Lazarus was the wage-earner in the family and his death left the two sisters in uncertainty about their futures.
Martha greeted Jesus with tenderness, expressing her confidence in his ability to heal. The idea that Jesus might raise her brother never occurred to her. That can be plainly seen by her response to Jesus’ words that Lazarus would rise again. She agreed: in the end. She believed in the resurrection of the dead.
But Jesus intended to stretch her belief just as he intended to stretch the disciples’ belief.
So he asked her to believe more. He could heal, but she obviously didn’t realize he wasn’t limited by distance. He could have healed Lazarus from far away.
But he waited til all hope was gone before arriving on the scene because he wanted to make a new statement.
Notice what he told Martha: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
Jesus continued to bring up the issue of belief: with the disciples and now with Martha. Into the place of no hope, Jesus asked for new belief.
Not a belief based on what they’d seen but belief based on what he promised.
That stretches all of us.
Tomorrow: Jesus wept.
 John 11:25-26