John 11:1-27; 2 Chronicles 10-11; Psalm 75
A friend recently posted this from the devotional book that she’s using: Streams in the Desert. When a Roman soldier was told by his guide that if he insisted on taking a certain journey it would probably be fatal, he answered, “It is necessary for me to go; it is not necessary for me to live.” Wow! What an amazing story of commitment to duty and responsibility. Isn’t that the kind of commitment we should have as Christians? This Roman soldier had the commitment because of his oath of allegiance to Rome. If his commander ordered something, he would do it, even if the probable outcome was death. We serve the King of Kings, as Christians. How often does our level of commitment fall short of these Roman soldiers? Job put it this way (13:15) “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”
These were dangerous times for Jesus and His disciples. A couple of times, Jesus had escaped from the Pharisees as they sought to stone Him. There was a price on his head. (Figuratively at this point, literally later.) Then, Jesus found out His friend Lazarus was dying. Rather than go immediately, Jesus waited a couple of days. Then, with an announcement that could be considered “vague booking”, He noted that Lazarus was asleep and it was time to go. His disciples didn’t realize what Jesus meant until He noted that Lazarus was dead. They must have wondered why they needed to go into the face of arrest and death, then, but in a supreme act of faith, Thomas, yep, that one, spoke up. “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)
Thomas is one of my favorite disciples. He gets a bad rap because he was away from the upper room the first time Jesus appeared there and so didn’t have the faith to believe in the resurrection of a dead man based on the words of the other disciples, but we see the level of his faith here. He wasn’t going with the certainty that if he died with Jesus he would be resurrected, he was willing to follow Jesus with the certainty that he would die with Jesus. So, ok, he and the rest of the disciples ran away at the crucifixion, but, he was willing to walk into a city loaded for bear, and for Jesus and anyone who would follow Him. Jesus went to Bethany with the purpose of showing the people, and the Pharisees, His power over life and death. By the time they got there, Lazarus had been dead four days, which in Jewish belief meant that not only was he really dead, he really was sincerely dead. Martha and Mary had no hope, although they kept a brave face. When Jesus asked them about Lazarus, the deflected and talked about resurrection in general terms. Yet, we’ll see that Jesus had something more miraculous in store.
Jesus had some amazing words about Himself as He called Himself the Resurrection and the Life. Maybe He had mentioned that in His teaching with the disciples. Whatever the case, they didn’t believe it was a literal truth, as noted by their behavior after the crucifixion of Jesus. Still, Thomas was ready to die for his belief in Jesus. What does that say to me, when I don’t like being inconvenienced to follow my faith? I know about the resurrection, and yet I shrink from following Jesus when He leads me into more difficult areas of my faith. How often do I hesitate to talk to people about Jesus because it might make them mad, or not like me? These may be dangerous times for Christians, but we must still be willing to go with Jesus that we may die with Him so that we can minister to others in His name. There are still people that are hungry and thirsty we need to minister to. There are still people who need clothing. There are still people who need to be cared for, who are sick, or who are in prison. In short, people who need the love of Jesus shown to them by meeting every day needs.
Lord, help me to be willing to face whatever problems may come my way as I minister to You.