A road trip to Judea! A place where one might get stoned to death! But Jesus says one must work while it is day.
Jesus explains to the disciples why He is going to see Lazarus — and the disciples don’t understand. Let’s read our text again . . .
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
9 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. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 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.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
I love the simplicity and unembellished account here. Jesus says Lazarus has fallen asleep. The disciples respond, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better” (v. 12). They don’t follow the Lord’s euphemism. And John the gospel writer records their misunderstanding.
Jesus then tells them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.” (v. 14). Jesus’ use of a euphemism didn’t work. A euphemism is an attempt to communicate bad news in a delicate, less painful way. Now Jesus has to announce Lazarus’ death.
What Jesus says next is astounding! “. . . and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” (v. 15)
Jesus is “glad” He was not there to rescue Lazarus from death?! That made Him happy? Yes! He declares, “so that you may believe” (v. 15).
Belief is a central focus of the fourth gospel. Belief is far more than mere opinion. Belief is life-altering, paradigm-shifting, soul-forming stuff. And there was something much more important than sparing Lazarus from death and his sisters from making funeral arrangements.
But now it was time to go.
We have a Savior who makes decisions. Decisions that sometimes don’t make sense to us. And all that’s left for us to do is . . . believe. (to be continued)