Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." But when Jesus heard it, he said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
Then after this Jesus said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them." After saying this, he told them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him." The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right." Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." John 11:1-16
Sometimes the hardest thing to do in the church is to be bold in the face of criticism and attack. We want to please others and make people like us. We want support and consensus before we step out and we feel righteous when everyone agrees with us. But anyone who has spent time in ministry knows that we are often in the uncomfortable place of having to tell truth to power, having to be bold in the face of criticism. Faith is not always comfortable and being a disci0ple demands we sometimes walk alone.
Lazarus was dying and he was Jesus' good friend. The foment against Jesus was high and death threats were everywhere. The disciples knew it was unsafe for Jesus to go to Lazarus, but he went anyway, although he would arrive too late, some might think. He modeled a fearlessness in the face of criticism and threats of physical harm. Love goes where it must despite public opinion and public appreciation. Love is often counter-cultural and unpopular. God has no desire for us to fit in, but to help transform the world while we are able.
Today I ask God to help me do my part. Let us not be afraid of public scorn or humiliation but rather rise to the needs of the least among us. May we be known for how we love and how we carry God's love and healing into this needy world today.