One of my many favorite bits of scripture comes from John 11, the raising of Lazarus. “…And for your sakes, I am glad…” Just those 7 words right there, so packed with meaning.
They speak to me of optimism, of the way our eyes cannot always see the good in events as they are unfolding. They also speak to me of the nature of God, that He is good, that He has our best interests at heart. What often looks bleak, dark, depressing, can have a gift within it, a purpose within God’s kingdom, a blessing waiting to reveal itself. …For your sakes, I am glad….
It’s almost a humorous dialog with the disciples in John 11, if you find human nature a bit comical. I sometimes picture a Monty Python scene. So Lazarus is sick and yet Jesus has stayed away for a couple of days until He finally says, “Let’s go back to Judea.” But the disciples are like, uh wait a minute, is that really a good idea? And so they say, “Rabbi, they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”
Especially funny to me, Thomas, a name that we shall forever relate to the saying, “doubting Thomas,” is all excited and gung-ho for a great adventure. Awesome, let’s go to Judea and get ourselves stoned! Thomas actually says, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.” I always get the impression that Thomas is a realist, as in he really has no idea how events are going to play out, but he just bravely confronts the “truth,” the worst case scenario, and plows full speed ahead anyway. Well, this is not going to end well and should be excruciatingly painful……Okay count me in, let’s do this thing! “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”
Jesus explains to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
The disciples seem quite skeptical and not terribly enthusiastic about the idea because they say, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!”
This is the part that makes me laugh, Jesus Christ speaking plainly to people who are somewhat reluctant to listen, no euphemisms, no softness, just flat-out, “Lazarus is dead.” In the bible death is often wrapped in metaphors so one is said to be “sleeping with the ancestors” or to have “given up the ghost,” never just a flat-out, “Look people, he’s dead.”
“Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
You can read the whole story of the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11, but I just want to end with Christ’s promise, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
And when there is doubt, fear, or hesitation, He simply says, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”