Lesson 66

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

11:8 The disciples told him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and are you going there again?"

11:9 Jesus answered, "Aren't there twelve hours of daylight? If a man walks in the day, he doesn't stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 11:10 But if a man walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light isn't in him." 11:11 He said these things, and after that, he said to them, "Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep."

11:12 The disciples therefore said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover."

11:13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he spoke of taking rest in sleep. 11:14 So Jesus said to them plainly then, "Lazarus is dead. 11:15 I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe. Nevertheless, let's go to him."

11:16 Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, "Let's go also, that we may die with him."

 Today's Lesson 

After Jesus announces that He is returning to Judea because of Lazarus, His disciples attempt to talk Him out of going back. They remind Him that the Jews in Jerusalem had tried to stone Him just a short time before. Understanding His response is predicated on His earlier teaching, "When I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Jesus had made peace with His purpose. He knew that His time was beginning to run short.


He tells His disciples that Lazarus has "fallen asleep." The imagery of death as a sleep is seen throughout the New Testament. It is a common image even today, but even more common in Jesus' day. Nonetheless, some of His disciples mistake His words. Their response can be paraphrased as; "Sleep is good for him. If he's sleeping, he will recover." But, Jesus sets their understanding clear by telling them plainly that Lazarus has died.


But, it's clear that even though Jesus knew that Lazarus was dead, He had supreme confidence that He could raise Lazarus from the dead. In the words of the writer of the Gospel of John, there is no doubt that Jesus is going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. This is not something that happens on the spur of the moment or something that Jesus does because He got to Bethany too late.


The statement that is recorded here from Thomas is one of the noblest statements that is attributed to one of the apostles. He tells the other disciples, "Let's go also, that we may die with him." They believed that if they returned to Judea that the next confrontation with the Jews of Jerusalem would be the last. And Thomas, at least at this moment, was willing to say that if Jesus were going to Judea to die that he wanted to be with Him.


The disciples of Jesus are often portrayed in the gospels in a negative light. They bicker among themselves. They are constantly concerned with rank and order. They occasionally come up with an insight, but they almost always end up twisting it around until it is wrong or saying something immediately afterward that detracts from their statement.


But, this statement and their decision to follow Him to Judea at this point stand out as being of a different quality. Later, we all know that they are scattered when Jesus is arrested. In the end, Jesus will be alone. But, even that is a part of God's plan. For now, these disciples are willing to follow Him into a dangerous place. And, their reward will be to witness one of the most dramatic moments in scripture.


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