August 21, 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.”
The reason I put the resurrection spoiler in the text is that we are barely going to address the miraculous part of this story. Instead, let’s look again at the disciples. On Wednesday we talked about Jesus’s tremendous mercy in the face of his disciples’ ignorance. But in these same verses lies a warning.
Look how sure of themselves the disciples are at every turn. Jesus says, “Let’s go back to Judea.” The disciples explain why that’s a bad idea. Jesus says, “Lazarus is asleep” The disciples say, “Don’t worry, Jesus. He’ll get better on his own.” Jesus says, “Lazarus is dead.” Thomas says, “Let’s go to Judea and all die together!” Not a single one of their responses was close to the mark, yet they sound so confident!
We see a similar exhortation from Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. I Corinthians 10:12 says, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” In other words, when you feel most confident, you should be most careful. It’s not hard to make the same mistake as the disciples. If everything in our lives is going great, a little bit of pride won’t make that much of a difference, will it? If we’ve been diligently spending time reading God’s word, we can coast for a week or two, right? I’m not saying you should avoid celebrating good times, and I’m not creating a law around your “quiet time” frequency. I AM saying that the disciples’ example and Paul’s words in Corinthians warn us to avoid the lazy confidence that comes with success. The remedy is simple, yet costly. Humility. Thankfulness. Generosity. Justice. Pursuing these things in the midst of success helps us avoid the pitfalls of sin. Look for opportunities to sow these things into your spiritual life this week, especially if things are going well for you.
And, by the way, Lazarus gets resurrected. It’s awesome. (John 11:17-44)