It is striking to consider the difference between Jesus and modern faith-healers. It is not difficult to imagine that if a latter day preacher managed to raise a man from the dead the thing would go viral on social media. With nearly everyone carrying a smart phone we would be treated to the dead man stumbling out of the grave from a number of angles. We would hear the oohs, the ahs and the shrieks. The comment section would be filled with giddy hallelujahs and a fair amount of dubious naysayers. Regardless, the preacher would be celebrated and most likely set for life. It would be time for the ministry to start shopping for a private jet.
The reward that Jesus received for bringing Lazarus back from the grave was demoralizing. As we mentioned yesterday, Sanhedrin, Inc., had written up an arrest warrant and surreptitiously ordered a hit. Jesus was not celebrated. He was convicted – in absentia. Thus, we find the Lamb of God on the lam: Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. ~John 11:54
Now, for a bit of background. Ephraim was named after the second son of Joseph. You might recall Joseph as the one who flashed his “coat of many colors” to an unappreciative audience of siblings. Their Bedouin earth tones were no match for their spiffy brother. It irked them so much that they sold little brother into slavery. Joseph then endured the balance of his days as a servant to the Egyptians. Joseph had a son whom he named, Ephraim. The etymology of the word is interesting. It means, “Being fruitful.”
But there’s more. If you recall, Jesus had performed his miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead in the small village of Bethany. We noted that the meaning of that word was, “House of affliction.” Nearly the same turn of phrase is used in the Torah as a description of Egypt during Joseph’s servitude. It is referred to as the “Land of affliction.” So, in this land of affliction, Joseph’s second son reminds him that in spite of the circumstances, it is possible to be fruitful.
As we near the turn for Jesus’ final Passover celebration, Jesus is taking a respite from the crowds. He is pouring himself into a handful of people – his disciples. These lads will soon be leading the whole movement and their future success will prove that Jesus was being fruitful in the land of affliction.