Common English Bible (CEB)
1 A certain man, Lazarus, was ill. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This was the Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair. Her brother Lazarus was ill.)3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, saying, “Lord, the one whom you love is ill.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This illness isn’t fatal. It’s for the glory of God so that God’s Son can be glorified through it.” 5 Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was. After two days, 7 he said to his disciples, “Let’s return to Judea again.”
8 The disciples replied, “Rabbi, the Jewish opposition wants to stone you, but you want to go back?”
9 Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours in the day? Whoever walks in the day doesn’t stumble because they see the light of the world. 10 But whoever walks in the night does stumble because the light isn’t in them.”
11 He continued, “Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, but I am going in order to wake him up.”
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he’s sleeping, he will get well.” 13 They thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was in a deep sleep, but Jesus had spoken about Lazarus’ death.
14 Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died. 15 For your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there so that you can believe. Let’s go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (the one called Didymus) said to the other disciples, “Let us go too so that we may die with Jesus.”
17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was a little less than two miles from Jerusalem. 19 Many Jews had come to comfort Martha and Mary after their brother’s death. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary remained in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever you ask God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha replied, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, God’s Son, the one who is coming into the world.”
This journey through Lent has been a really interesting, fulfilling, and yet profoundly confusing journey at times. If you’ve been following, I’ll often make comments about the erratic, provocative, and downright irresponsible behavior of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Some day’s he’s angry. Other days, he’s a smartass. Often I feel like he just makes it up as he goes.
This is all probably because I’m not Jesus, and therefore I have no idea what was going on in his head most of the time. However, to people out there that deny the divinity of Jesus and merely claim he was merely a “great moral teacher,” I truly wonder what they would do with a passage like this. What’s the good secular societal moral on display in this passage?
Is it to put off visiting a dying friend?
Is it to go to a region where you may get killed by a lynch mob?
Is it to express to your friends that you are glad that your friend died so that you can prove to them your identity?
Is it to address a grieving woman with a profoundly philosophical and outlandish statement like “I am the resurrection and the life” and “people who believe in me will never die”?
Seriously; all the people who read Jesus as merely a good moral and spiritual philosopher… I really don’t see that in this passage. At all. Perhaps I’m just channeling Spock reading this, but I don’t see any logic in Jesus at this point, outside of the Jesus’s goal of getting people to believe in him.
Ah, yes. Spock. Our favorite pointy-eared alien friend from the star ship Enterprise. The voice of reason in tension with the increasingly bizarre and illogical behavior of his coworkers, least of all his captain. He’s the personal favorite of countless Star Trek fans, mainly because of the calm, cool, aloof demeanor of his character, as well as his rigorous adherence to logic, as prescribed by the culture of his race, the Vulcans.
However, as logical and reasonable as he was, not every situation called for cool, blue reason. More often then not, Kirk was the source of the winning suggestion in a crisis, and either Spock would give his logical consent, or logical protest. One way or another, the pragmatic Vulcan was a good counterpoint to the ingenious yet foolhardy Captain James T. Kirk.
So, in my mind, this passage is very evocative of not a Spock-like course of action, but a Kirk-like plan for ultimate success.
I know I’m going out on a limb here, but in this scenario, I’m seeing the disciples as Spock: “Aren’t you afraid those people are going to kill you if you go there? Seems like a highly illogical plan, Captain Jesus.” That is, except for Thomas, he can be Bones.
Actually, that may not be the worst way to look at it.
Jesus does call to follow him, even unto death. Jesus asks us to believe in him, to put our trust in someone who’s logic is not our own, but God’s. He was the Logos, after all; and thus in on something we aren’t. Conventional human logic, or Vulcan logic for that matter, doesn’t really seem to apply to Jesus.
Of course we know, it all worked out for the best; Jesus did resurrect Lazarus, but I’ll get to that later. What’s important in this passage is the trust people place in Jesus, that despite all logic, we trust that Jesus truly does have our best interest at heart, and our best interest is to believe in Jesus. It’s that weird circular logic that pops up everywhere in John.
So Jesus seems illogical. The highest logic there could be, however, is embodied in the Logos made flesh, and for us to believe in that Logos is far better than any other plan that we can think of. In Christ, illogic becomes logic.
However, I never thought that I would ever compare Jesus to Kirk. Wonders never cease in Lent, do they?