This is part 2 of a 3-part series. Today, consider reading John 11:1-16 prior to reading this post.
As chapter 11 begins, we see that Lazarus is sick and his sisters, Martha and Mary, have sent word to Jesus (verse 3). Surely, their friend, but more importantly their Messiah, would come quickly. However, instead of leaving immediately, Jesus stays where He is, not just for the moment, but for two whole days. His only remark:
But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” John 11:4*
Imagine the disciples listening to Jesus calmly state Lazarus’ illness would not end in death. Several things could have been assumed:
1. Jesus did not feel compelled to leave the city He was in due to bigger, more pressing priorities. Sure, Jesus loved Lazarus, but did Lazarus’ family really expect Jesus to just drop everything and come to them? Thousands of people wanted the Messiah’s attention. How could Jesus show such favoritism to one when He was needed by so many?
2. Jesus said it would not end in death. Perhaps, Martha and Mary were overstating the facts of Lazarus’ condition a little.
3. The disciples had been witnesses to many miracles by Jesus -they had even seen Him on occasion heal from a distance (Matt. 8:13, John 4:50). Perhaps, He would pray and command a healing over Lazarus versus going to visit. That would be impressive, right? Jesus did say Lazarus’s illness was for God’s glory.
But then, after allowing the two days to pass, Jesus reverses course and tells His disciples He is going to Judea. And the disciples, being the faith-filled followers they were, packed up immediately and left with Him -didn’t they? Absolutely not! They chose to protest out of fear:
But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” John 11:8
Did this concern Jesus? No, quite the opposite. He had no reservations about returning there. So in this moment, He shares a teaching point that at first does not seem to make sense in the midst of the conversation that was occurring.
Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” John 11:9-10
Let’s get this straight. First we are talking about going to see a sick man, then the dangers of Judea, and now Jesus appears to be giving a lesson on daylight. Confused yet? Honestly, at first read, these two verses would seem peculiar to anyone. As with most sayings spoken by Jesus, there is a deeper meaning. The easiest way to unpack these two verses is to remember that Jesus is often described as the Light shining into this world. So, when Jesus refers to mankind having twelve hours of light, He could be referring to man depending on the ‘natural’ assets of the world and not God. Since they rely on the world’s reasoning, they can get to a certain point without God, but then darkness comes and they no longer have guidance and may stumble into sin, into temptation, and all kinds of trouble.
But when we rely on the light of Jesus, the never-failing light He shines can lead us through anything. As long as we are following Him, come what may, we will be able to walk through even our most difficult trials (darkness). In essence, Jesus wanted the disciples to realize they were walking with the Light (even back into Judea), and they had nothing to fear. And then, as the disciples’ minds were trying to unwrap what Jesus just said, He makes another unsettling statement.
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.” John 11:11
The disciples, hearing this, are then seen asking what seems reasonable. Why wake the ill? Doesn’t he need his rest? Will he not be better soon? What they were really asking was: “Is this trip necessary?” Knowing they continued to misunderstand, Jesus speaks to them plainly.
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.” John 11:14-15
Even with this news, the disciples are still resistant, still concerned for themselves as Thomas, known as doubting Thomas, lives up to his name.
Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:16
Sometimes in life, Jesus will ask us to do things that do not make sense to us in the natural. However, it is always in our best interest to do what the Master says. Otherwise, we risk missing out on something really wonderful – like seeing that dead thing in our life resurrected and restored. Don’t miss the miracles of life by letting fear and doubt hold you back. Walk with the Light!
Next week we will end this story, and be there when Lazarus lives again!
*All scriptures taken from the NLT.
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.