When talking to to someone about a difficult choice, I sometimes ask, “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”
Sometimes the answer is, “I don’t know.” I ask them why they are fearful. Sometimes the answer is “I might offend that person.” I ask them if the opinion of that person actually matters. Sometimes the answer is, “I might fail.” I ask them what the worst thing about failing is.
When we honestly consider the worst thing that could happen to us in a particular situation, we can make informed decisions. we can plan alternatives. We can decide the risk is not acceptable. We can realize that there are no good reasons for our fear.
Regardless of the outcome, the threat loses power over us.
But what if the worst that can happen actually is the worst thing we can imagine? What if the worst that could happen would be torture, would be death? That was the outcome that the ruling council began to plan for Jesus. As they listened to people who were excited about Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life, they began to fear for their lives and livelihood. They began plans to kill Jesus.
Jesus knew. John writes,
So from that day on they plotted to take his life. Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.
But here’s the thing. His departure was not about running away, it was about timing. Over and over, Jesus talks with his disciples about being betrayed and killed. The worst thing the rulers could imagine, the thing that they thought was the end, was exactly what Jesus was planning.
Interesting. If there’s resurrection, somehow death’s not a threat.