Recently I found an astonishing passage in the gospel of John. Here Apostle Thomas says: “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11: 16). These words are not terribly encouraging. They do not offer a very happy outlook, and yet they are among the most beautiful words in the gospels. This is because they relate to a particular phase in the life of our Lord Jesus. Shortly before his sufferings, Jesus was called to Bethany—the place where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived—and received the news that His friend Lazarus had become ill: “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” (John 11: 3). Then Jesus said to His disciples: “Let us go to Judea again” But the disciples said: “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” (John 11: 7-8). The Jews had attempted to stone Jesus several times. The disciples did not understand: on the one hand, Jesus wanted to go back to Judea even though it was dangerous, and on the other hand, He wanted to go to Lazarus, even though the latter had already died in the meantime. This no longer made any sense to them. But then Thomas said: “Let us also go, that we may die with Him!” With these words, Thomas encouraged the other disciples to follow the Lord even into death.
Let us not allow the Lord to go alone. Let us go with Him in order to proclaim the gospel! Jesus found Himself in a special situation, and so did the disciples. He had a message to deliver, and no one wanted to hear it. Indeed it was even dangerous to proclaim the gospel. The message of the gospel must be delivered, however. God wants all mankind to hear it.
Today the gospel is not met with agreement in all quarters. Although we are not likely to be stoned for proclaiming it, we do meet with strong resistance at times. People try to explain to us that the gospel of Christ is no longer relevant. It appears to be so outdated to believe that Jesus will come again. It no longer appears relevant to our time when we say that we need forgiveness of sins. It no longer seems relevant to say that there are living Apostles. Many take offence to this message. But the world needs to hear it nevertheless. Even if there are not many who still want to hear it today, this message must continue to be preached, it must continue to spread—and that is why the Lord needs us.
Let us go with the Lord in order to proclaim the gospel. The disciples were prepared to go with the Lord. They were well aware of the risks associated with this: if the Lord were to be arrested, there would be trouble for them as well.
Today one might say: “We are Christians. We are New Apostolic Christians. But if we do not tell anyone about this, people will leave us alone. After all, people do not want to hear about it anyway!” No! Let us not remain in the shadows! Let us clearly profess our faith and say: “We are Christians! We believe in Jesus Christ. For us the gospel is divine truth. We believe in the return of Christ. We believe in the commission of His Apostles.” Let us go with Jesus in order to proclaim the gospel, and let us profess our faith! That is what Thomas recognised in his time, and that is also what he called upon the other disciples to do. Let us go with Jesus, even if this is associated with risks, even if we must live through certain inconveniences and troubles, even if one or the other laughs at us, even if we are attacked.
(From a divine service with the Chief Apostle)