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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Zechariah 13:9 “This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’ ”
Zechariah 9:9, 10 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Ezra 3:12, 13 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
Daniel 2:30 “As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.”