Scripture: John 11:7-16
7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
9 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. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
“But I thought, Lord, that . . .” and I can hear the Lord say to me, “Yes, Dan, you thought . . .” We see here how tuned Jesus was to his Father in heaven. To us, the timing seems off and not quite logical. A short time prior to this, Jesus had to flee some forty miles from the region of Judah because some in the religious establishment there wanted to kill him. His growing popularity had become a major threat. Jesus had become very famous and people from everywhere were clamoring to see him with the hope of seeing one of his miracles. Yet his dear friends’ call for help came from the very place that sought to kill him.
So here Jesus’ unusual response of “there are twelve hours in the daylight” was a way of telling his followers that God, his Father, had given him a task to do, but one, which in this case, defied human understanding. In Jesus’ words to his disciples, “You do your work while it is daylight” and you accomplish the Father’s will. Someone who walks in the dark, stumbles and gets off course. “Stumbling” in this context further conveys a lack of belief, a lack of understanding. Jesus was in the spiritual “daylight” and the disciples were in the spiritual “night.” (We must remember that the disciples were in the process of learning who Jesus was. It wasn’t until after Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit that they fully understood all that had happened and came into the “daylight.”)
The disciples clearly did not understand the bigger picture of what God was doing. The raising of Lazarus from the dead was part of his Father’s course of action, so Jesus spells it out specifically for the disciples. Despite this, Thomas’ final comment confirms that they still did not understand. The truth is, there are times when you and I are in the “night” concerning the working of God. Remember, God never is. The next time you and I are tempted to question, “Lord, but I thought . . .”, be reminded of Moses’ words to the Israelites before crossing the Red Sea, “be still and watch the mighty hand of God.”
Music: “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” –William Cowper, 1774 Sovereign Grace
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan his work in vain,
God is his own interpreter
And he will make it plain. (Eventually)
PRAYER: Lord God in heaven, who knows all things, who understands all things, who has power over all things, who has created all things, who sustains all things, who loves all things, who is over all things, who is everywhere present, who has been revealed in Jesus Christ, who is present in the Holy Spirit, who has given his written word, who has made provision for the restoration of the whole created order, grant us one more thing: faith to trust you when we cannot understand your ways in this world. This we pray through Jesus Christ, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Hallelujah! Amen. –Daniel Sharp