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Thursday, April 21, 2011


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[April 21, 2011]   --"Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.'"-John 11: 7-16

If you haven't read the story of Jesus and Lazarus lately, you really should.  It composes all of the Gospel of John's 11th chapter, and is stunning in its theological depth, nuance and power. The section I have pulled out is less discussed and occurs early on in the story.  Jesus has been summoned to the town of Bethany because a friend of his, Lazarus, has become gravely ill.  The man's sisters, Mary and Martha, believe Jesus can help their brother, but Jesus is in no hurry.  Finally, he decides to head for Bethany despite the protests of his disciples, who fear he will be killed if he goes there.  They also fail to understand that Lazarus is already dead, but, once they do get it, Thomas offers his cryptic prediction that they will all end up dead as well.  It is a tough moment. 

This aspect of the story is overshadowed by what happens when Jesus arrives; his conversation with the sisters, his tears, his resurrection of the dead man, but this passage sets the stage.  And it sets the stage for all of us who are called to follow Jesus.  When we figure out that we are being called to do something, and we discern this with regrettable infrequency, we should remember this passage.  Here Jesus knows what he must do to glorify God, he must go to the dead man, but his disciples want little part of it.  They know it will be danger, and indeed believe it may lead to their own death.  But they go.  And that is the important thing.  We often wonder what Jesus will do for us in our lives, or where he was when we suffered, but the truth of things is that we often overlook or ignore that which we are supposed to do for him.  Following Jesus often means going places that we are uncomfortable or even afraid to go, places which will challenge and test us.  Jesus is not our servant, he is our master, and we should understand the difference.  For when we can overcome our fear and follow our savior, we show others and ourselves the glory of God. 

Prayer:  Holy God, help me to hear Christ's call in my life, and to follow Jesus this week.  I ask that I may have courage to go even to those places of which I am afraid.  I pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

 [Phil Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]

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