If Only… – Week of March 27, 2023

Jesus said to [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. The ones who believe in me will live, even though they die.”
John 11:25

“If only.” I would imagine that every person has thought this at least once and probably many times. “If only it wasn’t raining.” “If only I could pay off this one bill.” “If only I knew. I would have done or said things differently.” “If only I had someone I could count on.”

We all have our own “if onlys”. We think that if that one thing didn’t exist or could be solved, our lives would be fine, and we would be at peace. Worry wouldn’t keep us up at night and stress wouldn’t fill our days. “If only…”

In our Bible verses for today, Jesus’ dear friend Lazarus had died. Jesus is coming to see Mary and Martha. As they see him coming Martha goes out to greet him. In verse 21 we read that Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When we read those words, we can almost hear the heartbreak in her words. Her next sentence expresses her faith. “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” When Jesus tells her that her brother will rise again, her words of faith are heard. “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” These words reflect confidence in Jesus the Savior. Even more importantly, they remind us who Jesus is—God’s Son and what he can do. Jesus is all powerful and even has power over life and death. Jesus responds to Martha with the words of comfort and assurance only he can share, “I am the resurrection and the life. The ones who believe in me will live, even though they die.”

Martha is grieving one of the closest people to her. Her sister Mary is as well. We are told that when Jesus saw Mary and those around her weeping, he also wept. Jesus, our Savior, our brother knows Mary and Martha’s grief and knows the same about us. His words to Martha and then to Mary and the miracle he does in raising Lazarus are incredible sources comfort and encouragement for us. Jesus cares deeply for each of us and knows our sorrows and our struggles. He came to earth and lived a perfect life to cover every one of our imperfections. He showed Mary and Martha and all of us that while death is a painful reminder and a result of a sin-filled world, he has power over life and death. Our Savior who has that power and who loves us so deeply, is always with us. We can believe and trust his words and his promises. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. For those who believe in him, the promise of heaven is already kept.

This side of heaven, the struggles continue. The challenges that come as a result of a sin-filled world are always with us. But our Savior, Jesus, is also with us. He promises to be with us in all of our “if onlys”. He kept his promise to be our Savior. Our sins, the worst of our “if onlys”, have been taken care of. We are forgiven. We can face our struggles with confidence knowing we are not alone. We have a dear friend in Jesus who will be with us through it all. “If only we had a Savior?” Done! Jesus is yours and he is mine.

Dear Jesus, thank you for all you have done in keeping your promises to be our Savior and to be with us in all things. Help us to remember your powerful loving presence in everything we face—even the sorrow of death. Amen

A Hymn to Consider:
Consider using the following hymn to reflect more on today’s message. Sing it or simply read it.
CW21 502 Children of the Heavenly Father

Early Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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