Summary: A sermon about being raised to new life.
"The Resurrection and The Life"
Right before our Gospel Lesson for this morning, in John Chapter 10, Jesus had been in Jerusalem for a Jewish Festival.
At this festival, we are told in John 10:24, that a mob circled around Him and asked Him, "How long will you test our patience? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."
Jesus tells them Who He is, and they pick up stones in order to kill Him.
But, it wasn't Jesus' time yet, so He escaped from them and went back across the Jordan river.
And this mob is out to find Him, arrest Him and kill Him.
Jesus is fully aware of this and Jesus' disciples are fully aware of this.
So, in choosing the time He will go back to Judea again, Jesus is making the decision as to when He will, indeed, finally die.
Jesus is in charge of the entire situation.
God is in control.
Lazarus, Martha and Mary were some of Jesus' best friends.
In verse 5 we are told: "Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus."
But, "when he heard that Lazarus was [sick], he stayed where he was."
It was only after two days that Jesus finally got up and said to His disciples, "Let's return to Judea again."
And understandably, the disciples are a bit shocked and, indeed, fearful.
They reply to Jesus, but "the Jewish authorities want to stone you..."
And then Jesus says a most unusual thing.
Jesus answered the disciples fears and trepidations about going back to Judea with this, "Aren't there twelve hours in the day?
Whoever walks in the day doesn't stumble because they can see the light of the world.
But whoever walks in the night does stumble because the light isn't in them."
Remember that for the past several weeks we have been discussing how the Gospel of John uses the metaphors of light and darkness in powerful ways.
The darkness represents separation from God.
Walking in the light represents walking in relationship with God, walking "in truth," and living within God's will for our lives.
And since Jesus is "The Light of the world" the only way to know where you are to go is to follow Him.
If we try and steer our own course by our own understanding, we will trip up; we will be lost because we will be in the dark.
How many of us can relate to "tripping up" in life because we weren't following Jesus?
But if we stick close to Jesus, and seek to see the situations we face from Jesus' perspective, even if it means days or even years of puzzlement, wondering why nothing seems to be happening, we will come out at the right place in the end.
And so, despite the danger that presents itself to Him and them, Jesus basically says to His disciples, "I'm heading to Judea to wake up Lazarus, let's hit the road."
And after some more conversation, Thomas says to the other disciples: "Let us go too so that we may die with Jesus."
It's quite astounding that Thomas plays the part of the leader of the disciples in this passage.
After-all, this is the same Thomas from whom we get the saying, "doubting Thomas."
And we get that saying from him because he was the one who, after the Resurrection of Jesus said, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hands into his side, I won't believe."
But here we see that Thomas is loyal, after all.
He may be a bit slow to understand things, but he is determined to go on putting one foot in front of the other, and walking in accordance with God's will.
"Let's go too so that we may die with Jesus."
In other words, if we go with Jesus, even if it is into the jaws of death, we will be walking in the light, we will be living in the will of God.
Do any of you remember who Arthur Blessett is?
He's the guy who carried that large wooden cross to every continent in the world, over a period of 40 years.
He had heard God's call on his life to take that cross, leaving on a certain day, and witnessing to the Good News of Jesus wherever he went.
But before he left, he suffered from an aneurism.
And he lay in the hospital bed completely stunned, puzzled and dismayed.
"Lord," he prayed, "You instructed me to walk with that cross across the world.
And I am supposed to leave in a few days."
The doctors had told Arthur that he would die if he didn't stay in the hospital, but Arthur made a decision.