“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,” Jesus said. (John 10:11)
While ranchers do not ordinarily sacrifice their lives for their animals, Jesus’ analogy shows the extraordinary action that he took to save his people.
Down through history, people have blamed each other for putting Jesus to death, as if we held power over him and he were the victim in a plan gone wrong. Yet Jesus said plainly, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” (John 10:17-18a, emphasis mine)
In the next chapter, when Jesus talked about going to see Lazarus, the disciples didn’t get what he meant. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he was speaking of literal sleep. So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with him [Jesus].” (John 11:11, 13-16)
Sometimes at funerals, laughter erupts at a glitch in the proceedings or in response to an unexpected comment. That’s the way this passage struck me as I read it last night. For his obtuse followers, Jesus had to spell out, “Lazarus is dead.” Thomas, knowing that the leaders were threatening to stone Jesus, made an off-the-wall comment, as if to say, “Okay, if Jesus is willing to risk his life by going to Lazarus, we might as well go with him and die, too.” (I wonder if anyone else finds Thomas’ words humorous?)
That’s where we leave off in today’s reading. If I didn’t know what happens next, I’d be sitting on the edge of my seat!
From November readings for Days 12, 13, and 14
Ezekiel 31-32, 33-34, and 35-37
Job 11, 12, and 13
John 10:11-21, 10:22-42, and 11:1-16
I John 2:18-23, 2:24-29, and 3:1-10