August 19, 2020
and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
“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.”
After reading this section of the story, I’ve come to the conclusion that the disciples were idiots. At least in this part of their discipleship journey. They had absolutely no idea who Jesus was or what he was about. They had seen him perform multiple miracles, and heard him teach on many, many occasions. Yet here we are again, seeing them completely miss what Jesus was talking about. They are taking his analogies literally, and assuming that Jesus is leading some sort of suicide cult where they will all travel to Judea to die together.
In the disciples, I see both a mercy and a warning. The mercy is that their inability to grasp God’s will did not in any way derail the plan. Quite the opposite, in fact. Jesus explains to them again and again what is going on. What a tremendous mercy that we can be slow to learn and get things wrong. Jesus will be patient with us and accomplish his will despite our help. This story feels a little bit like when a small child wants to “help” make dinner. Dinner prep is going to be slower and messier. But at the end of the day, a good parent will make sure dinner gets on the table for everyone. The next time you make a mistake or misunderstand what God is saying, remember that he is patient and powerful. He can accomplish the work he desires in you and through you, despite your shortcomings.
Tomorrow we will reflect on the warning of these verses.