It was in winter, the Apostle John writes (John 10), “at the time of Hanukkah,” when Jesus was at Jerusalem and in the Temple.
“Surrounded” by some really religious folks who demanded that he tell them “plainly” whether or not he was the Messiah, he did. Well, what he really said was, “I’ve already told you, and you didn’t believe me.” But he went on to say some amazing things that all lead to one answer: Yes.
One thing you’ve gotta give Jesus’ detractors here is that they aren’t even close to spouting the oft-spouted modern nonsense popular with non-thinkers, “Jesus was just a great human teacher.” No, they heard him, understood at least this part of what he said, and charged, “You, a mere man, claim to be God.” And then, not for the first time, they “picked up stones to kill him.”
The Son of God is standing in God’s “house.” The most religious of the religious are those who hate him so much that they’re picking up stones to use to kill him, and, all the while, they are feeling holy about their actions. Their already high opinion of themselves is becoming higher as their murderous ire grows.
When they try to arrest him—I suppose being arrested is better than being stoned to death—Jesus eludes them, and he and his disciples get out of Dodge. Well, they get out of Judea, crossing the Jordan River into “the region of Perea.”
All of this sets up the events that precede Christ’s raising of his friend Lazarus from the dead. It would also be true to say that the dominoes falling now lead straight to the cross.
The place to go for the full account is John 11. Read it, and picture in your mind the astounding story. I’ll mention just a few of the many interesting points.
Jesus gets word that Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha, all dear friends of the Lord, is sick. John tells us more than the disciples knew at the time, that Jesus is well aware that Lazarus will die—and then live.
The disciples don’t understand the situation. They would like to send a nice “Get Well” card, but when Jesus finally says plainly, “Lazarus is dead. Let’s go see him,” they know what that means. Crossing back over the Jordan is a high risk move likely to result in arrest and death. They feel bad about Lazarus and sad for his sisters, but they fail to see how going back into the danger zone and adding more deaths to his will do much real good. Yeah, let’s send a card.
It’s good for us to notice at this point one of the greatest actions of faith recorded in the Gospels. Thomas, much maligned as “doubting” Thomas, says, “Let’s go with him [Jesus] that we may die with him.”
They will go. They will head out to the cemetery with the distraught sisters. Jesus will cry with these people that he loves. The Son of God, fully human, fully divine (nothing less than both will suffice) will shed human tears, divine tears. Then he will command that death work backwards and life spring forth. Lazarus will live. Jesus’ detractors will harden their very religious and murderous resolve, and the most innocent of Passover lambs, the best of men, God’s Son, will die on the cross. Then three days later . . .
Thomas, faith-filled, said even more than he knew, and many more disciples than the other eleven still hear in his words a challenge and an encouragement, “Let us go also, that we may die with him.”
Much modern religion is about “sending a card,” maybe attending a meeting of the club once in a while. But when we bow together, more than a few who bow together would truly rather die with the Lord than live without him. And die with him they do. Imperfectly in themselves, but perfectly in him. Daily. And live with him they do. Eternally.
Oh, yes, faithful Thomas said more than he knew and much we do well to heed.
You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com, and I hope you’ll take a look there at my new “Focus on Faith” Podcast. At the website, just click on “Podcast.” Blessings!
Copyright 2022 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.