When Jesus announces that they will be going to Judea, the disciples’ hearts probably flutter with panic and dread. “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you,” they remind him (v. 8). They care deeply for the sick man—Jesus calls him “our friend Lazarus” (v. 11)—but Jesus’ disciples are primarily concerned about their rabbi. They try to reassure Jesus that Lazarus should be all right now that he’s only fallen asleep. And if Lazarus is going to be fine—why risk death? Isn’t this why they didn’t leave for Bethany right away? What’s the point of going to Lazarus’s side now that he’s recovering?
I recall a time I caught a friend’s 4-year-old climbing on the upstairs banister. After I snatched him back to safety, I tried to make him understand that a fall from that height could break his legs or even kill him. The child didn’t understand the possible consequences of his actions, and the disciples are acting like Jesus doesn’t either. “You do realize you could die, right, Jesus? Let’s just stay here, where it’s safe.”
Except Jesus’ purpose isn’t to stay safe, and this isn’t a discussion. After Jesus states his intentions, I imagine him turning on his heels and immediately starting his journey, as the disciples remain frozen where they stand. He’s going to die in Judea, and there’s no talking him out of this. What will happen to them if they follow?
Thomas answers with courage and loyalty, the sort of ride-or-die devotion you’d want in a disciple and friend: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (v. 16). How could I show Thomas’ level of ride-or-die devotion to someone or something?
When have you known something would end badly, but you did it anyway? Why did you do it? What did you learn from that experience?
God, I often shy away from things I’m not convinced I can succeed at. Please grant me the courage and loyalty to do what I feel you are leading me to do, even if I fear it will end badly. Amen.