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Daily Reading: 17th January 2015

John 11.31-33

31 Then those Jews who were with her in the house and comforting her, seeing that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her. They thought that she was going to the tomb that she might weep there.

32 Then, when Mary came to where Jesus was, seeing 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 weeping, He was deeply moved and agitated within His spirit.

There was a custom amongst the Jews that will help us to understand verse 33. That custom was to visit the grave of the dead person. Some say as often as possible for three days after the burial. W Barclay states that it was for the first seven days.

The purpose was to outpour their grief and also to honour the dead person, especially in their wailing. W Barclay tells us that the louder the wailing, the great would be the honour that was being paid to the deceased.

In our day the custom for some is for the relatives to visit a Chapel of rest, where their loved one is. Such a visit may happen once or twice, or not at all.

This is very different from the custom of New Testament Jews.

It is because of this custom that when the Jews saw Mary get up quickly they thought she was going to the tomb. Perhaps we can assume that both Mary and Martha had done this a few times since Lazarus had died.

Therefore, they followed her, intent on continuing their comfort and consolation to the sisters.

We must note that the objective that Martha had of trying to get Mary to Jesus in private does not appear to have succeeded.

This may have caused some frustration for the sisters; we do not know. If it did they do not appear to have let it affect them. Mary continued to go to be with Jesus, with her comforting Jews following her.

As we come to Jesus we may have those who will follow us, in particular this is true for fathers. Therefore, we need to pray for more men to receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, knowing that they are influential in bringing the rest of the family to Jesus.

Do others see us getting up and going to Jesus? Do our families see us spending time in the presence of Jesus? It is from us that our families observe and are likely to follow Jesus.

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