A disciple unto death

Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go that we may die with Him.”  John 11:16

Jesus had recently been in Jerusalem and His words had caused such a stir that the Jews sought to stone Him (John 10:31,39)  Now He was speaking to His disciples of going back to Bethany which was very near Jerusalem.  His disciples were concerned because of the danger of going back there.  The fear that filled them even caused them to ignore the need of one dear to their group – Lazarus, who was very sick.  But Jesus had heard from the Father and knew there was a work to be done in Bethany.  As the disciples continued to argue with Him, He told them plainly that Lazarus was dead and then added, “let us go to him.”

Thomas, who is always known primarily as the doubter, has lost credibility with most of us and his words in verse 16, “let us also go that we may die with Him”, have been labeled as pessimism.  But not only has Jesus recently been in danger at the hands of violent men, he has also just said that they are going to Lazarus – a man that is in the grave.  What other conclusion could Thomas, or any of them, have come to.  They must have all felt that their very lives were in danger if they continued on with Jesus.  And it is Thomas that encouraged the group to look the consequences square in the eye and to move forward with Jesus anyway.  This is the level of commitment that a disciple is called to – to follow Jesus wherever He leads.  Even if it is to death.   And it is Thomas who reminded them of this.

Can we remind ourselves of this today?  Here in comfortable American Christianity, can we remind ourselves that Jesus still expects disciples unto death?  The death of martyrdom seems unlikely here, for the moment anyway, but does He not require of us a death to all the allurements and distractions of this world?  Does He not expect from us a detachment from the amusements and entertainments that the lost chase after?  If we were called upon to lay our lives down as martyrs, how could we ever do it if we have not first learned to lay down the remote control in favor of the prayer closet?

The true bread doesn’t need any butter

I love going to restaurants that serve bread before the meal.   Sometimes I enjoy the bread so much that I don’t have room left for the meal and end up taking most of it home in a go-box.

One thing about bread though, it needs something with it otherwise it’s just kinda plain and dry.  It needs butter, or honey, or sandwich meat and mayo.  Something.  By itself it just isn’t quite satisfying.

“Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.”  John 6:32

The bread from heaven that came down in the wilderness for Israel was symbolic of the bread that was to come.  But it wasn’t that bread and couldn’t satisfy.  We read of Israel’s complaining about the manna because they became weary of it.  It wasn’t the true bread.

How often are we found trying to satisfy ourselves with something that the Father only meant to be a pointer to lead us to Jesus?  Even our spiritual disciplines, which are important and necessary, can fall into this category.  We pray and fast and read the Bible, but find that we keep looking for something to add because we just aren’t quite satisfied.  It is only when these things lead us into true communion with the living Lord that we will find contentment and satisfaction.

Jesus needs nothing added.  The true bread doesn’t need any butter.