GOING & DYING WITH CHRIST
“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: 11-16)
Today most Orthodox Christians prepare for Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, while other Christians already celebrate Holy Thursday, or the Lord’s Supper with His disciples, soon after which most of them abandoned Him at His arrest. So I’m looking at the above-quoted passage, where Thomas expresses the willingness of all the disciples, several days before the Lord’s Entry Into Jerusalem, to “also go” into that city, that they “may die with Him.” They don’t quite carry through with this intention, however, to “die with Him,” because at this point they understand neither “dying with Him,” as a “falling asleep,” nor do they quite understand Christ, as the Trampler of Death. He intends for them to gain this understanding, this faith, by raising Lazarus from the dead, (as He says to them, “so that you may believe”). But after the resurrection of Lazarus, and even after being confronted with the women’s story of His own, empty Tomb, still, the disciples did not believe. And as for Thomas, he famously “doubted” until he physically touched the wounds of the resurrected Lord.
My point? Faith in the resurrection is a gradual thing for many people, including the Lord’s own disciples. And the Lord Himself leads us through this gradual, growing process of our faith, by manifesting His trampling-of-death to each of us in different ways, “so that we may believe,” and indeed go ahead and “die with Him,” in the ways we are called to do, despite our tendency to cling to our “old” ways of life. Because we ourselves, on our own, cannot overcome our fears of “dying with Him,” even if we express our good intentions to do so, as did Thomas in the above-quoted passage. Thank You, Lord, for leading us to grow in our faith in You, even as we falter along the Way.