As we learned yesterday, Jesus knows the plan and the purpose. He heard the sisters’ cries for help and chose to stay where He was for two days, not because He wanted to cause them pain, but because He provided an opportunity for growth.
His two day timetable was up, and…
“He said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’
The disciples said to Him, ‘Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?'” (John 11 v. 7-8)
Have you ever gone somewhere you weren’t wanted? Don’t laugh when I say this, but for me, it was Paris. Every ounce of energy I exerted to order from a complicated French menu resulted in unwelcoming eyes and insulting looks. Their body language was saying everything their mouths were not: Stupid American!
Now, I’m not dissing the French. After all, their bread is pretty amazing ; ) But, that experience is one time in my life where I can distinctly remember feeling as if no one wanted me there. I didn’t belong, and they weren’t concerned with accommodating for my lack of French culture.
In John 10, Jesus’ claim to be One with God resulted in some unwelcoming acts on the Jews’ part. They picked up stones in an attempt to kill Him for blasphemy (10:31-39).
Now, He is headed back there, encouraging His disciples to follow along. I find myself saying the same thing as they did- “…are You going there again?” (11:8) I mean, really, that’s like asking to be killed. Think we could go on some other mission? What about walking on water? That was fun.
“Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” (v.9-10)
Jesus was saying- there are only so many hours in one day. There are only so many days in My appointed time here. I cannot waste it hiding away while I have light. I must use that light to guide others.
“These things He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’
Then his disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’
However Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.’
Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.'” (v. 11-16)
The disciples don’t know what’s going to happen. He’s glad that they will have an opportunity to grow their faith (v. 15), but he’s also walking into “enemy” territory. A place where he is not wanted or welcome. They might as well post “If your name is Jesus and you claim to be God, don’t step one foot inside this gate” signs around the town. Maybe some “Beware of stones” posters, too.
Yet, Jesus wanted to go. Because the Judean people mattered more than safety. And because God’s glory couldn’t be seen as brilliantly as it would inside those gates.
You see, Jesus is determined to bring life. He doesn’t care where He has to go or the depths He has to go to, He is fixed on waking us up from mundane routines without hope and purpose.
I wonder if we will do the same. We aren’t saviors, and we aren’t called to raise people from the dead. But, will we go where it’s not safe, where it’s uncomfortable, maybe where we aren’t welcome to shine light in a dark place? Will we put aside the politics and positions of others and concern ourselves only with the opinion of our Father?
Will we, like Thomas, boldly say, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (v. 16)?
Jesus was determined to bring life to Lazarus, not just for the sake of Lazarus. In fact, raising him from the dead had more to do with everyone else than it did with Lazarus (v. 4, 15). Jesus knew that this miracle would affect believers and non-believers alike. It would increase the faith of some, and trigger the faith of others.
Has my faith become so self-centered that I do not see the reason God has given me life? Is it to keep it to myself, or to be freely given to others? For Jesus to go to such a distance for my salvation, I wonder if it is serving the purpose He would have. He is determined to bring me life, because my life should affect the lives of others. It should be a beacon of God’s grace and hope. It should increase the faith of some, and trigger the faith of others. Not because of anything I am or anything I do, but because of Jesus who is determined to shine His glory through me. He brings life.