Summary: Jesus teaches His disciples that courage is not found in acts of bravery but in trusting in God.
Jesus, the God Man: The Gospel of John
Introduction: Most of us remember these memorable lines from The Wizard of Oz: Cowardly Lion: Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?
Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman: Courage!
Cowardly Lion: You can say that again!
Many people think that in order to be brave or act in a courageous manner we must, like the Cowardly Lion, go in search of something called courage and the answer according to the Wizard is to simply give him a medal which immediately bestows on him courage.
Scripture teaches that courage is not found in acts of bravery or in a medal, but rather it is our faith in a big and mighty, powerful God that loves us and calls us to trust Him. Jesus teaches this to His disciples as He prepares to go to his sick friend Lazarus and in doing so He teaches them about “courageous faith.”
1. Face fear with faith. (vv. 7-10)
“after this” – After waiting two days.
“Let’s go” – It is NOW the right time. Lazarus has been dead for three days. There is now urgency where before He had waited. It is NOW the right time to go and accomplish that which God has planned.
“Judea again” – This is perhaps a test. Notice He did not say let’s go to Bethany or Martha’s house, but rather Judea which would conjure up fear in their minds as they remembered what happened last time they were there.
v. 8 – “Rabbi” – students now try to instruct their teacher.
“Last time we were there they tried to stone you to death. Are you sure you want to go back there?”
There is not only fear for His life but for theirs as well. They are afraid to go back.
But don’t we like to think that we know better than God?
v. 9 – Instead the Teacher teaches them again. This was a common phrase in that time. It meant 12 hours of daylight not 12 hours in a day.
There is only a little time to get things done. We must work while it is daylight – while the light is still shining.
Compare this to John 9:4-5.
We need to remember that we, too, only have so much time allotted to get things completed and, after that, the night closes in and we are done.
Man's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. Job 14: 5 (NIV)
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (NIV)
Jesus calms their fears by reminding them to trust Him for He is the Light.
You will think that once Jesus arrives in Bethany it is too late – that night has long since passed because Lazarus is dead, but Jesus is right on time! It is still daylight!
What are you facing? Does it seem like it is night in your life and in your soul? Don’t be afraid! Face your fear with faith because the Light is still here. It is still day. Jesus is still able. He is still working. He will be on time!
v. 10 – The safest place is in the middle of God’s will – obeying Him. You walk with God and you will not stumble or fall. The reason is because, as a believer, the Light is in you so you are never in the dark.
Sometimes we worry that if we go where God tells us that we will suffer harm but according to this verse you are not in the dark (or in danger of harm) because you are in the light. As long as God wants you alive, nothing can harm you. The same is true of your death. But also…
2. Remember that you may not understand everything. (vv. 11-13)
“our friend” – Tender words about their friend. He was obviously not only Jesus’ friend, but the disciples’ friend as well.
WOW! Don’t you love being known as Jesus’ friend?
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for every-thing that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:15 (NIV)
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ Luke 7:34 (NIV)