John 11: 7-16: ”Let us go…”

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[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” NIV

There comes a time to get up and go when God shows you the clear path of duty. Get up and go and take others with you, to learn, and to help meet the need you have become aware of.

  1. Go – if it is God’s will – even though it may mean danger (8). Don’t let fear stop you doing the right thing. Don’t allow the discouraging words of others to keep you pressed up against the buffers when you should be rolling down the track.
  2. Go – if it is God’s will – according to the ”light” He gives you (9, 10). If God gives you ”light” on a matter, that is not merely for scribbling a note in your journal. Chances are He’s giving you something to DO. You may need further light on the timing of the action you are being shown. But the basic principle is, if God shines ”daylight” on your path, walk in it.
  3. Go – if it is God’s will – even though the company may often be disappointing (11-13, 16). The disciples repeatedly failed to understand Jesus – like here, where they thought He was saying that Lazarus had just dropped off: ‘ ”Master, if he’s gone to sleep, he’ll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine.” Jesus was talking about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about taking a nap.’ (The Message.) And Thomas’ words (16) may have been full of courage, but they sound rather gloomy and resigned, and may have spread negativity like a cloak around the others. (Thomas was also ”called Didymus”, which means ‘twin’. We don’t know who his twin was, but I can sometimes feel that I am!! I can be so negative and doubting.) We are called to partner with fellow Christians, and we can regularly feel disappointed with one another. We are sinful by nature, and even though we are being changed, the sin repeatedly shows through, and we hurt each other. But as much as other people may disappoint me, when I look in the mirror I frequently see a disappointing reflection. As someone said, in the church we are ”Building with bananas.” We are all a bit bent out of shape. Jesus takes us with Him on His mission. We may let Him down, and fail each other; but the call remains to pull together for the sake of the Kingdom.
  4. Go – if it is God’s will – though the challenge is huge (14, 15). It doesn’t get bigger than raising the dead, but Jesus is more than equal to it, even though we are not. As William Carey said, ”Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.” If God is for us…!!!
  5. Go – if it is God’s will – but go in His timing (6). It may be hard for people to understand God’s timescale; but He knows what He is doing. Trust Him. There’s a purpose, and one day you will see the other side of the tapestry, whereas now you see only a mass of tangled threads.

Just one final thought. The disciples did misunderstand Christ here (12, 13). Nevertheless, throughout the New Testament, death, for the believer, is spoken of in terms of ”sleep”. Bishop Thomas Ken wrote:

”Teach me to live that I may dread,

The grave as little as my bed.”