“So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.'” (John 11:3)
The words of Mary & Martha to Jesus in 11:3 are not merely the record of a message between friends; but they also serve as a good model for us as we pray for those we love today:
Mary & Martha’s brother, Lazarus, was sick — VERY sick — in fact a couple of days later, he would be dead. So what did the sisters do? They sent word to Jesus. They brought the need of their brother to Him. And in their request, they referenced the love that Jesus evidently had for Lazarus.
These two godly sisters show us today the way to intercede for our loved ones:
— Someone we love has a need or problem. What are we to do? Just like they did, we are to take it to the Lord.
— And just like they did, we can claim His love and care for them, telling Him about need: “He whom you love is sick.” It is significant that the basis for Mary & Martha’s request was NOT the worthiness of Lazarus, but of the magnitude of Jesus’ love for him. We should pray the same way: not asking the Lord to minister to our loved ones because of how good they are, or how much they deserve it — they may not! — but rather because of HIS love for THEM! God’s undeserved lovingkindness and grace alone is the greatest ground for Him to act.
Now it is notable that in this case, Jesus did NOT answer the sisters in the way they anticipated. We should know that will often happen with US too: the Lord may not answer our prayers in the way we might desire or anticipate. But, also as in this case, the reason for that is because God has a different — and better! — plan for how He will glorify Himself through this loved one than what we might have imagined or asked for.
But Mary & Martha model for us what we are to do with our loved ones’ needs: bring them to Jesus, claiming His love for them as the basis for His action.