In John 12 we read this intriguing but often overlooked (at least by me) comment:
“So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well,
since it was on account of him that many of the Jews
were deserting and were believing in Jesus.” (vss. 10-11)
It is so easy to forget the tension and excitement and the machinations in Jesus’ final week. His entry into Jerusalem had galvanized people. Some were excited by the hope his entrance raised. Others were likely perplexed that his great entry didn’t result in some equally dramatic gesture to proclaim his Messianic mission. Those who opposed him – the religious leadership and their allies – reacted as strongly and as negatively as the crowds had positively.
It is easy to forget the cloud hanging over his followers. That Peter’s denial is more easily understood in a context where Lazarus would be threatened with death because Jesus had raised him from the dead. Even Judas appears differently in the boiling tensions and plots of these days.
Most of us in the western world who follow Jesus don’t face any real danger. No one plots my death because I identify with Christ. As a religious professional I am, in truth, accorded a certain respect and even admiration at times. No one wants me dead because of what I preach or what I do in Jesus’ name. Probably none of you either.
What I wonder on this Monday of Holy Week is this: am I truly following Jesus if there is not real risk to me? Am I genuinely following in the footsteps of the crucified one if I do not face death (real or even metaphorical) by doing so? Have I made the kinds of commitments to Christ that engender danger? Or only the ones that promise me comfort and blessing?
Something to ponder today as I wonder what life following Christ is like when we live more as Lazarus did.