John 11: 8 – 16
“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
One cannot forget the backdrop to this story of Lazarus. The religious leaders are after Jesus. They have accused him of blasphemy for claiming to have been sent by the Father. They are furious at his seemingly flagrant disregard for the laws of Torah. And they are horrified by all the people that Jesus touches, engages, and heals. Jesus’ disciples are discouraged, pessimistic, and afraid. And Jesus? Jesus is resolute. Jesus is focused. Jesus is confident of God’s intervention. Three very different responses. How alone Jesus must have felt.
For much of his time with his disciples, Jesus has spoken in stories, responded with questions, and generally communicated in a manner that required discernment and wisdom to understand. Often, even those closest to him didn’t get what he was conveying. As his time draws near, Jesus speaks plainly to his disciples. He is concerned that the ones he has invested in for the last three years of his ministry will believe.
He knows the end is near.
Imagine how Jesus felt as his disciples feebly tried to protect him and prevent him from going back to Judea. The religious leaders hate him and are plotting his death. His disciples seem to have given up hope. Imagine what it would be like, Jesus fully human, drawing on his deepest reserves of courage and resoluteness. Imagine how he would have prayed to the Father in those times.
Do you have a moment/memory that stirred up faith in you?
God give us a sense of the strength and courage of Jesus in those moments of engaging his unbelieving disciples knowing that what they said about the religious leaders was true. Help us to receive that gift of resoluteness. Birth in us a “steely-eyed endurance” in the face of push-back, attack, and malignment. May your gift of faith sustain us. Amen.