John chapter twelve illustrates the great divide between those who believed Jesus and those who didn’t. This part of John’s gospel follows hard on the heels of raising Lazarus to life and culminates in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Meanwhile the “chief priests had decided to kill Lazarus also, because he was the reason many of the Jews were deserting them and believing in Jesus.” (10-11). Lazarus was more than collateral damage, he was evidence of Christ’s miraculous powers. Evidence had to be suppressed.

The divide between those who celebrated Jesus’ triumphal procession and those who resented couldn’t have been more clear. The crowds who had seen the miracle of Lazarus rejoiced while the Pharisees resented him (17-19). Earlier he had described the separation as between those who loved the truth and those who didn’t. When people could see that he taught with authority on spiritual matters, belief and unbelief were certain to collide.

Desperate Denials

What was it about Christ that drove his detractors to such desperate measures? Many others could see the obvious: only a man with the power of God could raise someone from the dead—to say nothing about healing a man born blind as seen in chapter nine. We don’t know if Lazarus was eventually killed. Though Christ was killed, it appears that the cover-up didn’t work.

Let’s ask the same question of our social media outlets banning certain voices, or of businesses who force employees to accept standards they consider immoral. What is it about the world that demands the drowning out of opposing points of view? The answer seems clear: some ideas threaten power structures.

Dare we propose that Jesus is still a threat to those who don’t love the truth? Make no mistake about it, Jesus was not just some nice guy who did nice things for the poor; he was a firebrand whose teachings and claims about himself stirred up the worst animosity in the worst people.

The Conflict Continues

The contrast between those who believe in Christ and those who want his teachings and followers suppressed has, in recent years, reached a crescendo. In a 2005 comedy routine Sarah Silverman said, “I hope the Jews did kill Christ, I’d do it again in a second.” Some have defended the statement as mere context in a comedy routine—as if she didn’t really mean it. Considering all the brouhaha about what is good comedy and what isn’t, such a rationalization seems a bit of a stretch.

This writer is left pondering why derogatory remarks about Christ and his followers are fair game while remarks (jokes?) about other groups are not. In any case suppressing evidence that threatens people is not the answer. No one is forcing anyone to believe in Jesus. Especially in a country that by constitutional law allows freedom of speech, we believe that people have a right to hear and decide issues for themselves without hiding evidence (like killing Lazarus) to the contrary.

See Conversation on John 12 here.

The Lazarus Chronicles and Conversations: © 2023, Bob Weber and Words Done Right LLC.