Death Is But A Sleep, In Jesus’ View
Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Saturday, 22 April 2017
11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
esus’ response to the news of Lazarus’ deadly sickness was: “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep” (v.11). The term “sleep” was a figure of speech. Nonetheless, the disciples, interpreting the word “sleep” in the natural sense, thought that Lazarus’ health was improving. Then Jesus said plainly, “Lazarus is dead” (v.14). Then the disciples understood the actual situation in Bethany. Jesus knew clearly that Lazarus was dead. (Therefore His remark in 11:4 cannot be an indication of inaccurate knowledge.)
Jesus had a purpose in not going to Bethany immediately as He came to know of Lazarus’ deadly sickness. He intended to turn the whole incident, Lazarus’ sickness and death, from one of sadness to one of strengthening the disciples’ faith. Their faith needed bolstering at this time, for they had been forced to flee for their lives from Jerusalem. They were shaken by the hostility they faced. So He was glad for their sakes that He was not there to heal him. Lazarus’ death now provides a magnificent opportunity to sustain and nurture their faith in Christ.
The response of Thomas, “Let us also go, that we may die with him,” surely indicates that Jesus’ words about the purpose of Lazarus death had already started to strengthen the disciples’ faith. Though Thomas assumed that death is a virtual certainty if they should venture into Judea again (11:8), he was courageous and willing to die with Jesus. We must admire this heroic loyalty on the part of Thomas, and of the others, for they went with Jesus even though they thought that they were facing certain death in doing so.
Our death shall never prove that our Lord is powerless or unloving. In our death, He will find an opportunity to glorify Himself. When death comes our way, let us not fear, for it is just a sleep, and the Lord will soon wake us up.
Death is but a sleep, and soon the Lord shall awaken us..
O Lord Jesus, fill my heart with the hope of resurrection and heaven.