…Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go into Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if any one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.’ Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.’ Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” (Jn 11: 5-16)

Today, four days before our soon-to-be-crucified Lord “awakens” Lazarus from the dead, the prayers and hymns of the Byzantine Lenten services call to our attention this moment: Jesus unpleasantly surprises His disciples by saying, “Let us go into Judea again.” This was a bad idea, the disciples point out. But our Lord confuses them further, talking mysteriously about “walking in the day,” and “the light of this world.” And finally, perhaps most perplexingly, He tells them about Lazarus’s death and adds, “I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”

So in this passage our Lord is already focused on the light He is to bring, first to Bethany, “so that we may believe,” and then to the entire world, through His life-giving suffering, death, and resurrection. But the disciples don’t see the “light” in this picture. They see danger and death. Nonetheless, they all resolve to follow, as Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.

I also don’t always see the “light” in the situations and paths my Lord brings into my life. But let me follow Him today, as many followed Him, and continue to follow Him, dying to self on the life-bringing path of the Cross. As Jesus heads for Bethany today, let me get up and follow, as I hear Thomas say, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.

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