Daily D – John 11:16
Then Thomas (called “Twin”) said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go too so that we may die with him.”
JOHN 11:16 (CSB)
You get the idea Thomas was the life of the party.
Tommy Boy was not the only one who had a bad feeling about going to see Martha and Mary now that Lazarus was dead. When Jesus said, “Let’s go to Judea again,” (verse 7), the disciples reminded him how the “Jews tried to stone you, and you are going there again?” (verse 8).
Let’s make sure we see their current reality clearly.
1. Lazarus was dead.
2. The Jews tried to kill Jesus recently when he was in the area.
3. They were on the way to a place of death – Lazarus, Jesus, and the whole gang as Tommy saw it.
Let us freely confess that death is a bad thing. Losing loved ones and friends is devastating. The Stoics say we should contemplate our deaths daily. Most of us would rather not.
Thomas was a twin. I do not recall ever hearing or reading anything about his twin. Was it a brother? A sister? Was his twin still living, or had he or she died? If death is the correct answer, then we understand something more of Tom’s sensitivity to the issue.
With the information we have in this chapter, which is always the best way to proceed when pondering issues like this, we see Tom’s internal battle between resolution and fatalism on display. He is a lot like us, or more accurately, we are a lot like him. We are not afraid of death because we know what is on the other side. However, as one Hollywood movie mogul put it, we just don’t want to be there when it happens.
Give Tommy credit: He wanted to be where Jesus was. Jesus opened blind eyes. Jesus made lame men walk. Jesus fed thousands with a Happy Meal. Jesus brought storms to stillness. If everyone needs a mentor for the subject of death, Jesus is a pretty good choice.
This is not the only time Tommy experiences issues with life and death. His nickname was Twin, as we see here. He has been given a different, more enduring nickname because of what happens in John 20. Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried. Then he was alive again.
Mary Magdalene and the rest of the disciples saw Jesus alive. Wherever Tommy Boy was, he missed it. In 20:24 and following, we see Tom’s resolute rejection of the resurrection pending further empirical evidence. Yes, there have always been people like that. Good. See what happened next.
A week later (verse 26), Jesus showed up while Doubting Thomas clung to his personal requirements for evidence. There was shock and delight in the room. Those who had previously seen Jesus alive were delighted. Tommy was shocked and dismayed and overwhelmed, and well, let’s hear from his own lips:
“My Lord and my God!” (verse 28).
Jesus did not belittle Tom. He knew all about him. He had known all about him for three years up close and personal. He had known him from eternity past. He knew his struggles with issues of life and death. He knew his fears, and all his fears relieved.
Please forgive Tommy for doubting. Seeing was believing. Jesus turns toward the camera and speaks his next words to you and me:
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe,” (verse 29).
Death is real. Separation is painful. Grief lasts a long time. For those who know Jesus, for those who see him for who he is, the separation and grief are time-bound. There are limits. Then there is reunion in the land that is fairer than day.
Go with Jesus wherever he goes, just like Tommy Boy. Why? Because when Jesus encounters funeral processions (Luke 7:11-17) and visits cemeteries, dead people wake up. In that sense, we all live in All Hallows Eve, Dia de la Muerta, Silent Saturday. And we all also anticipate Sunday, Resurrection Day.
It’s time to wake up to who Jesus is. It is time to say what Sir Thomas said: “My Lord and my God!”
I will see Jesus as the ruler of life and death.
Our Father, we see ourselves through the eyes of John and Thomas today. We see why Thomas doubted. We see why he changed his mind. We see why John had to write this story. We see what we need to do. My Lord and my God, I belong to you! Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.