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The Sisters
John 11:17-36


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The SistersJohn 11:17-36
00:00 / 13:58

You are Martha and are grieving the death of your dear brother Lazarus. Take a few moments to feel the gravity of your loss and pain. You might remember an actual loss in your life – the death of a loved one, the death of a long-held dream, or another painful experience of loss and sorrow.


You are in your house, and you hear someone in the street cry out that Jesus is coming. You jump up to go meet him. “Jesus is coming,” you tell your sister, Mary, who is sitting by the front window. She doesn’t respond or shift her gaze to look at you. “Jesus is coming!” you repeat. When Mary remains motionless, you slam the front door in frustration. Let her stay at home! She has left me to grieve alone for the past four days!


As you run toward Jesus on the road, all kinds of emotions flood through your body. You see Jesus up ahead and you feel a burst of rage that he did not arrive in time to heal your brother. Jesus waits for you to approach him.

“Lord,” you say, catching your breath, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”


Jesus looks at you, and you feel flooded with his tender compassion. As you draw closer to him you lower your head, ashamed of your outburst. “But I know that even now, God will give you whatever you ask,” you murmur.


Jesus wraps his arms around you. “Your brother will rise again,” he says.

Your jaw tightens and you clench your fists. “I know – in the resurrection on the last day.” You feel the anger rising inside you again. You don’t care about the “last day” – you are missing your brother right now.


“I Am the resurrection,” Jesus says gently, wrapping his hands around your fists. “I am the life.”


He rubs his fingers lightly across your clenched jaw. “Whoever believes in me will never die.” He lifts your chin and looks into your eyes. “Do you believe this?”


“Yes, Lord,” you say, and as the words leave your mouth, you feel a surge of wild, new hope. Resurrection. Life. Never die. “I believe,” you say softly.

Take a few moments now to listen to your inner responses. How are you feeling? What emotions are rising to the surface? Try not to edit anything. What do you notice about Jesus in this moment?



Gently return to the beginning of the story and pray it once again, this time as Mary.


You are Mary and you are grieving the death of your brother, Lazarus. Your sister, Martha, has just rushed away from the house to meet Jesus. You are so exhausted. Your limbs feel so heavy. When Martha yelled that Jesus was coming, you couldn’t even respond. You know she is angry with you, but you are too tired to move. You let Martha go on alone. The door slams and you begin to weep again.

You are tired of having so many people around telling you how sorry they are. You just want to be left alone. You feel empty, hollow. You remember sitting at Jesus’ feet – there was nowhere you would rather be! But now, now you don’t know what you feel about him. He wasn’t here!

 You just want to sit in the darkness and disappear.


Suddenly Martha is standing next to you, saying your name, “Mary.” She touches your shoulder. “Mary,” she says again, then leans down and wraps her arms around you.. Her arms feel very warm and tender – not rigid and cold as they did earlier. You lean tentatively into her embrace. “The Teacher is here,” she whispers. “He is asking for you.” There is no bitterness in her voice. You look at her face and she is leaning toward you, smiling, her eyes full of light and life.


Jesus wants to see you! Jesus wants to talk with you! You feel a sudden burst of energy and jump up, then hug Martha tightly. You rush out of the house together to meet Jesus, outside the village at the place where Martha just left him. But as soon as you see Jesus standing there on the side of the road, you begin to cry. You approach him slowly.

“Lord,” you sob, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Then you fall at Jesus’ feet and weep. You have nothing to say.


Jesus touches your back. You look up at him. His eyes are red and puffy – he has been weeping as well. He leans his head against yours and says, “Mary, where have you laid him?” His voice breaks as he sobs. Then he pulls you to your feet, and you say, “Come and see.” You lead him through the village, followed by a crowd of Jews who have come to console you and your sister, toward the cave where you and Martha recently buried your brother.

As Jesus draws near the tomb, he calls out, “Take away the stone.”


Remain with Jesus in this moment and ask him to show you his desire to see you and speak to you. Ask him to reveal his compassion to you – how he knows your pain and is moved by your sorrow. Now invite him to speak to you about something in your life that needs to be resurrected. Invite him to take away the stones that are blocking you from that new life.

Photo: OC Gonzalez on Unsplash

Music: Sad Day by Benjamin Tissot on

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Love Story by Monument Music (

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