Determined Discipleship
Mark David Ribbins

The Death of Lazarus

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you,and yet you are going back?” 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.”


It’s easy to follow Jesus, as long as He’s popular in the places where you’re following
— a lesson His disciples learned while watching the course of His ministry.

“ Called to be fishers of men? How cool to hang with Jesus!
Watching a temple crowd pick up rocks to stone Him, not so great.
Helping to feed 5000 with a bag lunch? Amazing experience!
Castigated by Pharisees for picking grain on the Sabbath, what a royal pain!”

Let’s be honest: for all of the joys that are available in and through a relationship with
Christ, the journey itself is often a succession of lofty highs and devastating lows.
When we preach, sing, pray until fire falls it ignites euphoric worship or repentance.
It’s a GREAT time in the Lord! Then, within the next hour someone who is faithless
(or feckless in their faith) wields sharp words at you deftly enough to cut to the core of
what was your triumphant moment.

In that instant, it seems that discipleship truly stinks. The dilemma for the true disciple is, do I have faith to make it through the valley times? Can Jesus count on me when the chips are down?

An example to follow in today’s text is Thomas. Look at John 11:16, and witness one stony display of resolute discipleship where the man also known as Didymus decides he’s willing to follow Jesus even at the risk of personal sacrifice. He says, “Let us go too, that we may die along with Him.”

Is your conviction so strong, your determination so great, and your instinct for self-preservation so fully abandoned that you can mirror Thomas’ words in your heart?

Lord, increase our boldness to live the lyrics we’ve often sung:
“I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.” Amen

Mark David Ribbins
Cleveland, Ohio