Monday, April 18, 2011

The Direct Disciple

Part 3 of the story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness ..."

You've known people like this. Maybe you're one of them. They're direct. They don't mince words. They call a situation the second they see it and give you a head-on, factual analysis of it, devoid of emotion. You ask them for advice, and they'll break down the picture in a very logical way, so that you can see your pros and cons and hang your feelings on the shelf to make a calculated decision.

Tom was that way.

Tom. No-nonsense Tom, who thought through everything and went with the straight-up facts.

Tom had another quality. He was intensely loyal. He took Jesus at His word, that if you loved someone, you'd be willing to lay your life down for them. That seemed to make sense to No-nonsense Tom. Back up your words with your actions. Be there for the dude. Set your face like flint and go with your loyalty, even if the facts show you that the situation is potentially dangerous.

Most people, when they think of Tom, remember him in an unflattering light. His unfortunate nickname has stuck to him like rubber cement for 2,000 years:

"Doubting Thomas."

That's another story.

But in this account of Lazarus's sickness and death, Tom is the one disciple who lays it on the line.

Jesus had just informed the group that Lazarus was dead, and that He was glad they weren't at Lazarus's bedside when the death occurred. But the death was necessary so that a greater purpose could be achieved.

All of this went over everyone's heads (of course). What the heck did Jesus mean, that a death could be a good thing? Where was God's goodness in all of that?

But even in the face of it, even as Jesus decided to go to Bethany into the lion's den of people who wanted to rip Him to pieces, Tom stepped up to the challenge.

I always see him in my mind's eye as a serious guy with a strong jaw and quiet but forceful voice when he uttered these words:

"Let us also go, that we may die with Him."

Poor Tom.

His heart was so right, in that he was willing to stay next to Jesus's side, even if it meant he could be stoned with Him.

But he missed the whole point.

Jesus wasn't in danger.

Not yet.

Jesus's time still hadn't come. And Tom would have a long way to go before he realized that after Jesus suffered the ultimate humiliation known to man, His death had a purpose that Tom could barely fathom.

We can learn a lot from Tom's words about this situation that Jesus was walking into and how people viewed it. The disciples had to figure He was nuts to head to Bethany, especially because Lazarus was beyond healing now.

For No-Nonsense Tom, the practicality and logic of Jesus's decision had to be driving him crazy with frustration.

And even so ... he was willing to stick to Jesus. If anyone was questioning God's goodness, it had to have been Tom. Why would God allow Jesus to make such a rash decision? Why would Jesus go along with it? He was needed to rescue Israel! He was the promised One! What in the world was going on in His mind?

Tom went along with it, despite how illogical it must have seemed to him.

No-nonsense Tom.

He and all of his no-nonsense were about to get knocked for a loop.

So was the entire nation of Israel.

What happens next? Tune in for part 4 of the story series, "Second-Guessing God's Goodness ..."

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