I have a mentor, an older man who helps me in the life of The Faith. I have a couple mentors, actually. One of them came to see me today. We spent about a hour and a half talking about various aspects of the life of faith, some of which were challenging but all of which were inspiring and encouraging. Perhaps the most inspiriting and encouraging was the way he walked me through John 11, the account of Lazarus’ resurrection.
I was familiar with that story, of course, having covered it at least once in Bible college and heard numerous messages on it in church. But my mentor showed me things in that story I had never seen before. The most significant of those is Jesus’ opening words in the story.
This sickness will not end in death, Jesus says. He tells His disciples right from the start that Lazarus’ sickness (and, by extension, everything connected to it, including Jesus’ return to Judea) will not result in death (again by extension, death for anyone). What then follows is what would be called “the debate” in a story or screenplay (according to Blake Snyder, the debate is what ends the first act of a story).
The disciples debate Jesus on this point, certain that a return to Judea will indeed result in Jesus’ death as well as their own. Jesus continues to assert that it will not result in death. He even asserts this after Lazarus has died. Finally, Thomas agrees to go to Judea with Him (and apparently persuades the others to go also) even though he is still sure doing so will result in all their deaths (my mentor called this “pessimistic yet courageous faith”, which I said pretty much describes my faith).
Their going to Judea did not result in their deaths, though. Instead, it resulted in their witnessing one of the greatest of Jesus’ miracles, their witnessing what Jesus called glory. As Jesus said at the beginning, the event did not end in death. They did not die. They apparently were never in danger of dying.
In the same way, Jesus is asking me to do things. He is leading me into new and sometimes scary territories. And He is telling me that it will not result in death, no matter how much it might look or seem like it will. He is telling me it will result in glory. This story is The Story; the beats in this story line up with and reflect the beats of The Story. This is happening in my life right now. It is probably happening in yours as well. If it isn’t, it soon will. May we believe what Jesus is telling us. May we understand and be convinced of the fact that death is not and never will be our fate. May we understand that we are headed not for death but for glory.