If You Had Been Here


We love to celebrate the stories where God steps in and does something miraculous. When God chooses to intervene in a desperate situation—disease, debt, divorce—we are rightfully overwhelmed by his goodness. But what about the times he doesn’t intervene? What about the times when a situation we are praying for becomes much worse? When life piles up and keeps on piling? If only he would step in…

  • Consider a few moments from your life where you wish God had performed a miracle.


17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


(Today’s questions focus on verses 28-37. Verses 17-27 were covered previously.)

  1. How did Mary respond when Jesus called for her?
  2. Reread verse 32. What was Mary’s posture?
  3. How did Jesus respond to her claim? What does this passage reveal about his humanness?
  4. In what ways have you experienced the disappointment and questions of Mary in this passage?
  5. How does Jesus’ capacity to feel the pain of Mary encourage you in the areas of pain in your life?


Mary’s brother had just died, and she gently blamed Jesus for showing up too late to save him (vs. 32). No other man would face this kind of pressure, but by now they had seen Jesus perform miracles. They had heard and witnessed the stories about the blind and the lame being renewed all across Israel. Every moment of Jesus’ life now comes with great expectations. Is it right for Mary, or us, to view Jesus as a healer-on-call? Should an emotional plea change his mind about when to intervene? Is it fair for us to expect God to show up and restore every desperate situation? I don’t have an answer. But I hope we have the courage to wrestle with the question.

  • Thank God for all the ways, seen and unseen, that he has poured his blessing and healing upon us.