Some who saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead believed in Him; others sought His death. Responding to those who were worried about Jesus’ bringing people to belief and the possible violent reaction of Rome, Caiaphas said, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” (John 11: 49b-50 ESV) The irony is that Caiaphas unknowingly served as a prophet in making the correct prediction that Jesus’ death was on behalf of the people. Jesus’ enemies plotted for His death. They also plotted the death of Lazarus, because his coming back to life brought many to believe in Jesus.
Out of the raising of Lazarus comes intent to kill both him and Jesus. Christians should remember that to serve Christ is to be vulnerable to persecution and even death. No Christian should be surprise at these possibilities.
Judas, one of Jesus’ own disciples, became an enemy. Working as an agent of Satan, he betrayed the Lord. Satan is a cosmic enemy of Christians. The world too hates Christians as it hates Jesus. (John 15: 18 ESV) Jesus remarks that “A servant is not greater than his master.” (John 15: 20 ESV) This means that if Jesus is persecuted, so will we be. (John 15: 20)
Jesus’ enemies are not only human beings but also Satan and the world. Throughout history and outside of history the light battles darkness (see John 1).
At our Baptism both Satan and the world are renounced. The Triune God is then confessed. As we witness to Christ, we must expect opposition. This battle between God and His foes will cost us. We must be willing to sacrifice as we serve in God’s legions.
Our opposition to the forces opposed to God should not involve any violence on our part. When we represent Christ’s Church, we must always witness with gentleness and respect.
May we defend ourselves if we are attacked violently? This is a good question.
Michael G. Tavella
May 26, 2020