"Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:21-24)
Martha probably knew that Jesus raised the widow from Nain's son (Luke 7:11-15) and Jairus' daughter (Luke 8:40-55) from the dead. But in those two instances, Jesus was present shortly after their death. Lazarus had been dead for four days. This length of time is significant because Jewish thought was that the soul could revisit the body for a few days after death. Martha thought if Jesus had been close at hand Lazarus would not be dead, but now there was no hope. By Jesus waiting to go to Bethany, there would be no doubt that Lazarus' resurrection was a miracle.
Unlike the Sadducees in Mark 12:18, Martha's eschatology was correct because she believed in the resurrection of the dead, yet, she had no hope of resurrection until the last day. The OT promises God will raise the dead. Hosea 13:14 says, "I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death. O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting?" "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2) Jesus made the same promise in John 5:27-28, "He has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment."
Martha also understood Jesus' promise of the last day. In John 6, Jesus describes Himself as the Bread of Life. He explains why people should desire Him more than the manna their forefathers ate in the wilderness. Those who believe Him, all that the Father gave Him, are secure because Jesus will raise them up on the last day. In verses 39-40 He says, "This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Martha's doctrine of the "last day" was right, and she understood the resurrection to be the final act of God's salvation. Even though she properly understood those two important facts, she still missed Jesus in the present. Jesus corrected her thinking by saying, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Jesus' statement and question forced Martha to focus her attention on Him, not her future hope. Psalm 46:1 (NIV) says, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 142:5 adds to our insight, " I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
I must confess at times to being like Martha. My doctrine may be correct, but I perceive it to be a future hope rather than to see Jesus as my ever-present help, my refuge in the land of the living.
Lord Jesus, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God. You are not only the Bread of Life; You are the Resurrection and the Life. In You and You alone there is abundant Life. Not just some future hope and promise, but today, at this moment and every one to follow until You come again in glory. Holy Spirit, please always remind me of that fact.