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) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
(Fresco inside Church in Bethany- "I am the resurrection and the life"- taken by the author).
Thoughts: The disciples thought that to go back to Judea would mean death. Jesus had just escaped from the ones in the Temple who were trying to kill Him (10:31). Jesus knew that going to raise Lazarus would mean his eventual death. Yet he went anyway. His disciples were willing to go with Him. In a similar way, Jesus comes to earth- at His own peril- in order to give us eternal life. As His disciples, we are called to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him (Lk. 9:23).
Prayer: Thank you Lord, for your willingness to come to earth in order to raise us up. May we have grace to sacrifice ourselves for others, following your great example.
Lenten practice: Look to give a hand to someone who needs a hand up today- could be a stranger, or someone you don't know well.
John Calvin Abridged: The goodness of Christ is amazing that He was so patient with the disciples who were slow to understand what He was saying. Lazarus was not asleep, but dead. His power would be displayed less if he had given immediate assistance to Lazarus. It is the same today: If God immediately stretches out His hand to help us, we do not perceive His assistance. When we languish for a long time in our distress, it is to promote our salvation. Thomas does not refuse to die with Christ, but should not have entertained fears of his own life.