After Martha made her confession of faith Jesus apparently sent her to call her sister Mary, since she tells Mary, The Teacher is here . . . and is asking for you (v. 28; more literally, "he is calling you," phonei se). The designation of Jesus as teacher is interesting after the more exalted terms of Martha's confession. But it is appropriate since he had just given her a teaching.
Mary runs to Jesus (v. 29), as had Martha (v. 20), showing that they had a great attachment to Jesus, which reciprocated his love for them. In coming to Jesus in the midst of suffering the sisters provide a model for all believers.
John tells us that Martha gives her message secretly (v. 28) and that Mary and Jesus meet apart from the crowd (v. 30) so it would seem Jesus desires privacy, perhaps, as noted above, because he is a marked man in this region. But his cover is blown when those who were mourning with Mary follow her, thinking she was going to wail at the tomb (v. 31). So all the mourners in the house gather at the tomb, providing witnesses to what is about to happen and thus giving them the opportunity to believe—and others as well through their testimony.
When Mary reaches Jesus, she falls at his feet and said, "Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (v. 32). This is exactly what her sister had said (v. 21). It would seem the sisters had been sharing this thought with one another (Westcott 1908:2:94). Whether her statement is rebuke or lamentation is unclear, as it is in the case of Martha. It could have elements of both, though the fact that she is wailing (v. 33) suggests lamentation is her main response. Mary does not add an expression of faith as Martha had (v. 22), though falling at Jesus' feet may suggest a similar attitude.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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