THE FINAL SHOWDOWN
“‘But Rabbi,’ they said, ‘a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.'” John 11:8-10 NIV
Once again the disciples were mystified by Jesus’ behaviour. He was not acting like someone who had the power to heal His ailing friend. Knowing he was dying, He dawdled for another two days. Perhaps His disciples thought He was deliberately staying away because the Jews had tried to kill Him.
Then, after two days, He decided to go back to Bethany after all. It seems that He was at least two days journey on foot away from Lazarus and his sisters. Four days delay could mean anything. What was the point of returning if it was too late?
Jesus’ reply is also puzzling. He was going right into the lion’s den, yet He seemed unconcerned. Once again He showed His followers that His life was directed, not by His circumstances but by His Father’s timetable. If He was needed in Bethany, He would go there regardless of what His enemies were planning to do. His times were in His Father’s hands; it was up to Him, as a Son, to obey.
“After this, He went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but His disciples thought He meant natural sleep. So, then He told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’
“Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, ‘ Let us also go, that we may die with Him.'” John 11:11-16 NIV.
Jesus seemed fully aware and completely in control of what He was doing. His delay was deliberate, giving Lazarus time to go the full course of his illness right up to his death and beyond. Imagine what that did to the two sisters who trusted Jesus and were anxiously waiting for Him to come! Day after day they watched out for Him but He did not arrive. Lazarus was sinking and they were desperate. Did He not get the message? Did He not care? Why had He not come?
Lazarus finally died and He still did not arrive — not even for the funeral. Four days went by — Lazarus’ body had begun to decay and still no Jesus. The sisters were disillusioned and distraught. Had He finally failed; finally betrayed their trust in Him? What were they to think? They had no idea what was happening on the other side of the Jordan.
From Jesus’ point of view, it was all going to plan. He even hinted to His disciples that He knew exactly what was happening. Lazarus had died. It was now time to go back to Bethany. His disciples were mystified. Why go back if Lazarus was dead? Wasn’t it too dangerous to put in an appearance when the Jews were crying for His blood?
That was no concern of Jesus because He knew when it would be time to put Himself into their hands. They had no power to touch Him until the Father delivered Him up to them. Time and again, people had tried to harm Him – from the time He made Himself known to His own people in Nazareth to His altercations with the Jews in Jerusalem, He was the target for hatred and murder, yet every time He emerged unscathed. He went about freely among His enemies because He trusted the Father.
He had His eyes on a miracle bigger than He had ever performed and a sign no-one could deny – that He was resurrection life that promised life to those who believed in him far greater than they could ever imagine. Raising a decaying man to life four days after he died was an unimaginable “work” that not even His enemies could deny. They tried to deny the blind man’s restored sight but a dead and rotting corpse brought back to life! Never!
No wonder He seized the opportunity to do something beyond anything people could imagine and especially His avowed adversaries. This was the power of the Father whom He came to reveal, and the display of His own glory through the glory of the Father.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide