S (Scripture): John 11:14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 11:15 and I am glad for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 11:16 So Thomas (called Didymus) said to his fellow disciples, “Let us go too, so that we may die with him.”
O (Observation): Over the span of their time with Jesus, the disciples are being stretched in their understanding of who Jesus is and what he is up to.
No one could be brought back to life, especially not after 4 days (after which it was believed the spirit could not rejoin the body). Yet Jesus’ plan is to do just that: resuscitate Lazarus. Earlier, Jesus refers to Lazarus’ death as a state of sleep (giving us readers hope for an awakening, not just for Laz, but for all of us). But to be clear, Jesus does declare (John 11:14) that Lazarus is indeed dead. Jesus is not happy about Lazarus’ death, but he is pleased that others will get to see the glory of God in bringing Lazarus back to life, so that others might believe in Jesus as the son of God.
John’s Gospel has Jesus talking about “believing” a lot. To go with believing, Jesus performs lots of signs and miracles (raising Lazarus from the dead being one of those signs). Jesus then connects the signs and miracles to helping people to believe that he is the son of God, so that those who believe might have eternal life (John 3:16).
A (Application): I heard a quote in a movie one time (Maybe “Santa Clause”?):
“Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing. “
I think this quote helps me to understand a little bit about what the disciples and those around Jesus were seeing firsthand. Seeing something is one thing. Seeing has to do with the head. Believing is another thing altogether. Believing has to do with the heart. Sometimes it takes believing something first before you can truly comprehend what you’re seeing. Sometimes without believing we can be blinded to things that are happening right in front of us.
In the disciple groups I lead, we take time to process “kairos” (that is, God-moments). We take time to do this as a group, so that we can allow others in the group to help shape our understanding of events, thoughts, feelings that are taking place in our lives. We don’t always “get it” when we see it for ourselves. Sometimes it takes others around us to remind us to “believe,” so that we can then truly “see” what is happening before our very eyes.
In the next reading or two, we will see the varied reactions of those who have seen Lazarus being raised from the dead. Some will see and still not believe. But those who believe in Jesus, will truly see the power of the Son of God in action.
P (Prayer): Lord, revealer of all, light to all, shine on our hearts. Help us to believe that Jesus raised up is our hope and our joy. Help us to believe, so that we can truly see. Amen.