In John 11 is the unusual and interesting case of Lazarus. When Lazarus was seriously ill, his two sisters, Martha and Mary, sent news to the Lord Jesus. Ordinarily, upon receiving the report, Jesus would immediately have gone to care for the sick one, but in this case He did not. Rather, He purposely delayed His visit for two days (v. 6). After two days, His disciples might have become disappointed. They may have asked, “Why wouldn’t You do something for Lazarus?” After they were disappointed, the Lord Jesus told them that they would go to see Lazarus.
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Martha came out to meet Him. She said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 21). The Lord indicated to her that whether He was late or on time meant nothing because He was there as the resurrection (v. 25). It is as if He said, “Resurrection does not depend on time. Whether I come earlier or later, I am the resurrection. As long as you have Me, resurrection is here. Do not blame Me. I purposely came late to show you something. Do not be concerned with time. Your brother will be resurrected.” However, Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day” (v. 24). She qualified the resurrection with a certain time. The Lord answered, “Everyone who lives and believes in Me shall by no means die forever. Do you believe this?” (v. 26). Martha said, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ” (v. 27). She answered according to her religious, theological concept, not at all according to the Lord’s meaning. In this respect, she was our typical representative. Resurrection is not a matter of being late or on time. It is a matter of whether or not we have Him. Forget about time, the surroundings, the circumstances, and the situations. All this means nothing. Only one thing counts, and that is His presence, whether or not you have Him right now.
The case in John 4 shows us that the worship of God is not a matter of this way or that way, of here or there. It is a matter of being in our spirit. The case in chapter eight shows us that the knowledge of the regulations of religion means nothing. We must realize that we are as sinful as others, and we must be reminded that we need the very One who is without sin, Christ. The criticizers need Christ. We have no right, position, or qualification to criticize because we also have sin. Rather, we need One who is without sin, and this One is the living Jesus. Today this living Jesus is the very Spirit who is in our spirit. When you are going to criticize others, turn to your spirit. Your spirit will tell you, “Don’t criticize. You are the same as that one. She is sinful, and you also are not without sin. Rather, you need One to rescue you from your sin. This One is Jesus Christ, the unique One without sin.”
The case in chapter nine shows us that whatever situation we are in should remind us that we need Jesus, and this very Jesus today is the life-giving Spirit. When we seek to learn the cause of our situations, we should realize that the cause is simply God’s sovereignty. God is sovereign. God intended for you to be in that situation. You do not need to be bothered about the reason. To seek for the reason is merely something of theology.
While the case in chapter four shows us that the worship of God is not a matter of place, the case in chapter eleven reveals that the resurrection is not a matter of time. It is a matter of a living Person. As long as we have Him, we have the resurrection.
If we expect to have a good church life, we must learn from these four cases. Forget about the place, regulations, the cause, and the time. Forget about criticizing others, regardless of whether they are right, wrong, or even seriously wrong. If you see their wrongdoing, you must be reminded that you are wrong also. They may be wrong in one way, but you are wrong in another way. You are not without sin. Then you must be reminded that you need Christ as the life-giving Spirit to rescue you from your sin. If we would have a good church life, we surely must learn all these lessons.
(Our Urgent Need - Spirit and Life, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)