You saw the title, so let’s go ahead and get this out of the way, it is - in fact - without debate or question, with empirical and statistical evidence, a Christmas movie.
Sure, one could go into the stats of how the word “Christmas” appears in the script 18 times which is more than the words “die” (5) and “hard” (11) combined. Some might spend hours discussing how the movie has 99% more “Christmasy” elements such as scenes and songs than most of the movies released over a 30 year period, including (other) Christmas movies. But hey, who has the time? For me, I see a man willing to lay down his life in pursuit of justice and redemption. The enemy thinks they can take him out - but he has 3 more movies on the way! What is more Christ-like than that?
What has been fascinating about this decade long debate is that in spite of all of the evidence, some choose to doubt and question. If you have encountered a doubter, you have doubtless discovered that past precedent does not often matter in a present situation. Principles and promises seem to disappear from their view as they are eclipsed with the next impossible situation. Provide all the evidence required for a sensible decision, and even still, a doubter will reluctantly follow and question all the way. (Like those of you still doubting Die Hard as a Christmas movie but are still reading.)
In John 11, Jesus has already proven himself more than capable of just about anything during his disciples’ journey with Him. Look at the miracles that have preceded this moment. Granted, Jesus has said some strange things by way of predicting His own death or refuting the Law; were it anyone else, we would have abandoned Him by now. But this Jesus, always seems to come through.
John 11:16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Where are you going?
Not too long ago (John 8) we were headed through Judea when a crowd picked up stones to kill Jesus at the temple. He had been questioned by the religious leaders on His radical statements, and rather than give a politically correct answer, He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Not only did He place Himself before and above our Father Abraham, He referred to Himself in terms we only use for Yahweh, “I am.” Naturally, they decided it was time for Jesus to die. But He managed to slip away. And now, Jesus is saying we should head right back that direction.
Why would you go back there?
Our question exactly! Well…sort of. When Jesus got the news about Lazarus’s illness, He opted not to leave. Seeing as a blind man just saw Jesus for the first time in the last chapter, (and yes, you read correctly, Jesus healed a man who was blind from birth) we assumed Jesus either knew Lazarus would be okay or He would heal him from a distance. But now we are told Lazarus is asleep or dead (we’re not sure what this means yet), Jesus decides we should ALL head back to the place where he could have died. “Let us go,” said Jesus. But we replied, “are YOUUUU going there again?” It was our way of saying, “Master, WE/US are not going. Why would you want to journey toward a group of people who already proved they wanted to see you stoned?”
Did you get an answer?
It did not seem like it at the time. Jesus shared about how we should stay close to Him for as long as we had the physical opportunity. He is the light. And as long as we walk with Jesus, we will see clearly and not stumble. But the real clincher was when He reminded us that death is not the end, death is just a door. He knew what we needed to see. He knew what He was about to do. He was fully God even when we were not fully convinced. So I, doubting Thomas, the twin who you have probably read in church history looked quite a bit like Jesus on the outside even before I believed in Him on the inside, I spoke up and said, “let’s all go so we can die with him.”
Die with who? Lazarus? Or Jesus?
Simply put: yes. I did not know if we would die with Jesus by the hand of the Judeans or die like Lazarus of sickness or natural causes. All I knew is that I wanted to encourage everyone around me in this life (us) to embrace the journey with Jesus, even if it leads to death. Ultimately, this life leads to death. But Jesus IS the life - and with Him, death is just a door by which we step into the eternal presence of the Lord.
You may be reading this today, in light of the political climates of nations around the world where Christians are quite literally dying to be with Jesus. And while it seems dark, they hold in their hand and heart the light of the gospel which compels them to embrace death. Death is not the end. It is only the beginning of forever. So even if you have doubts, walking with Jesus will allow you to die to self daily, and when your time comes to leave this life, you’ll step boldly into eternity. The choice isn’t hard.
Dingers, this WVW was written by our friend Jon Groves. Jon is an evangelist based out of San Antonio, TX. For the last 9 years he has traveled around the country preaching in churches, camps, and conferences and also served as the Lead Pastor of a multi-site church near Nashville, TN. You can find him on Twitter @JonLGroves or you can check out his site www.jonlgroves.com